SRI’s CEO, Gopinath B. Sekhar was recently interviewed by Tyre Asia Magazine. The February / March issue will be also distributed at the Tire Tech Expo 2011 in Cologne, Germany.
“The devulcanizing technology that Sekhar Research Innovations (SRI) has developed, for which it won the 2010 Asia Pacific Technology Innovation Award for Tire Recycling Technology by international consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, is set to change the way end-of-life tyres are perceived and managed. SRI CEO Gopinath B Sekhar says the compound created by his firm’s cleantech process, which uses very little energy, can be utilised to make new tyres, retread old ones and make automotive parts. This will be particularly economically at a time when natural rubber prices have gone through the roof.
With automobile industry booming in China and India, tyre production in the world’s most populous countries is growing very fast with China already topping the list as the world’s largest producer. Along with this, comes the problem of environment-friendly disposal of end-of-life tyres. In this context, SRI’s tyre recycling is a viable green option for emerging economies.
“India has a long history of recycling which predates the terms of ‘cleantech’ and ‘green’. China in particular has shown a capacity for rapid adoption of all things green, with 1/4 of their energy requirements now being supplied by clean energy,” Sekhar noted.
The need for the recycling of scrap tyres in a responsible and appropriate manner is no longer just a necessity but it is now an imperative, he emphasised.
The already substantial automotive markets of north America and Europe are now being joined and even surpassed by Asia where these industries are on explosive growth. “Existing systems to manage the volumes of scrap generated are going to be outstripped very quickly leaving a path of unacceptable environmental damage in its wake,” he warned. “When I refer to the imperative, I’m not referring to lip service or peripheral low volume applications, but the imperative is for a process that can keep up with the volume of scrap generated.”
In 2004, Sekhar Research Innovations (SRI) was founded by local rubber technology legend, the late Tan Sri Dr B.C. Sekhar. When he passed on in 2006, his son, Gopinath B. Sekhar took over the company, focusing on developing a process that enables the reuse of materials from scrap tyres.
The breakthrough for SRI came after five years of endeavour when they successfully created the “SRI compound”. Recycled from tyres and waste rubber, the compound can be used to make new tyres, retread old ones or make automotive parts.
The process of creating the compound begins with cutting and grinding up scrap tyres into crumb rubber. The crumb rubber is then put through the SRI Activation Process to create premium rubber which can be used in a range of products once it is mixed in with the manufacturer’s virgin compound.
Sekhar uses the analogy of cake baking to describe the process: “A scrap tyre is like a baked cake. Eggs, flour, sugar and other ingredients are used to make the cake batter. Once baked, it is impossible to turn the cake back into batter because the properties of the ingredients have changed.
“It is the same in rubber product manufacturing where natural rubber, synthetic rubber, carbon black, chemicals and sulphur are mixed together into a compound. The compound is put in a mould and the mould is heated up for a specified amount of time at a specified temperature to vulcanise it into a finished product. This finished product material cannot be reverted back to the compound it initially was.”
But what if there is a method to convert the cake into batter? This method is what the people at SRI have developed.
Today, over half the recovered end of life tires in the World are incinerated in low end and unhealthy applications like TDF (tire derived fuel). The argument for burning tires has been that no alternative exists that can consume the huge volume of waste tires generated yearly. Technology has now caught up with the scrap tire problem, effectively ending the need to burn this valuable raw material as low grade fuel. Thank you to Discovery Channel for featuring SRI as a leading tire recycling company with the potential to address this solid waste issue with technology and innovation.
“..processing an old tire back into a new one remains extremely difficult. The production process alters the materials’ properties, making them hard to reclaim. So far, tire recycling hasn’t been able to produce significant amounts of affordable, high-performance compounds. Sekhar Research Innovations (SRI) is a startup based in the Malaysian city Petaling Jaya. They say their patent-pending technological process can devulcanize rubber from whole scrap tires, creating a compound that can be used to make new tires, retread old ones, and make automotive parts.The technology can work at high volumes and requires very little energy, says SRI.. “Ours is the first closed-loop rubber recycling solution that can match the volume requirements of rubber manufacturing.”
This fall, consulting firm Frost and Sullivan gave the company a technology innovation of the year award for their tire recycling process. “Large-scale implementation of SRI’s recycling technology could ultimately lead to greener, ecofriendly cars on our roads,” the firm stated. Currently the company is in the process of commercializing its process and plans to open a production facility in Malaysia.
Sekhar Research Innovations (SRI) has been awarded the 2010 Asia Pacific Technology Innovation Award for Tire Recycling Technology by Frost & Sullivan. SRI received the Asia Pacific award in recognition of its performance against key competitors in terms of uniqueness of technology, impact on new products/applications, functionality, customer value and the relevance of SRI’s innovation to the tire recycling industry.
Frost & Sullivan’s Technology Innovation of the Year Award is bestowed upon a company that has carried out new research, which has resulted in the development of a specific innovative technology that has or is expected to bring significant contributions to the industry in terms of adoption, change, and competitive posture. This award recognizes the quality and depth of a company’s research and development program as well as the vision and risk-taking that enabled it to undertake such an endeavor.
SRI is honored to receive this prestigious award. We thank Frost & Sullivan for recognizing the disruptive potential of our technology and its significance as a milestone in the Asia Pacific cleantech industry.