SBIR Phase I: Energy Efficient Conversion of Waste Tire Rubber into a Novel Slow Release Fertilizer/Soil Amendment Formula

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013

$148K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

EigenChem Technologies Inc.
12085 Research Drive, Suite 141
Alachua, FL 32615
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes a novel technology for an economical conversion of waste tire rubber into a unique ?two-in-one? fertilizer/soil amendment formula. This is in a sharp contrast with how the scrap tires are disposed nowadays: either by landfilling or by burning for energy or by shredding. Landfilling and burning are environmentally harmful, while mechanical methods as well as pyrolysis approaches are energy demanding. This innovation introduces an energy efficient one-step chemical process that turns waste tire rubber into a highly useful multi-purpose agricultural product. When introduced into the soil, it serves as a slow release nitrogen fertilizer enriched with sulfur and zinc micronutrients as well as a water-holding agent, a soil conditioner with the bulking, aerating, and drainage functions. This multifunctional material will be useful for horticulture, nurseries, sod production, and also for turf grass management in golf courses and athletic fields. The goal of this project is to prove the process chemistry technically viable and scalable and to determine chemical, physical, and environmental characteristics of the proposed product critical for a commercial deployment. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project involves about 300 million automotive tires discarded annually in the US and up to one billion in the whole world. This potentially disruptive innovation will deliver a sustainable solution for the pressing waste management problem of tire recycling. It will provide a valuable and affordable slow-release fertilizer/soil amendment formula for the agricultural sector as well as for athletic and recreational facilities. Another possible application will be an oil absorbent/bioremediation accelerator for oil spills emergency responses. Experimental and theoretical knowledge obtained due to this project will enrich diverse scientific disciplines such as waste management, soil science, chemistry and technology of rubber, and organic chemistry. Rendering waste tires a renewable resource and a commercially viable product will promote the values of sustainable development among the public, which is important in the era of reducing natural resources.