This application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/343,642, filed Jan. 4, 2012, which is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/628,947, filed on Dec. 1, 2009, which is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/476,211 filed on Jun. 1, 2009, which claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/058,122 filed on Jun. 2, 2008, which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety, and to which applications we claim priority.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Automotive tires and other rubber products are often difficult to dispose. Further, many recycling procedures have been proposed or are in use to handle these rubber materials. However, most of these procedures provide an end product that is lower in quality than the original rubber material. As such, much of the recycled rubber is used for alternative uses, such as playground floors, running tracks, and various padding or rubber structures or devices.
It would be a significant advance in the art if a recycling process for waste rubber, such as old automotive tires, provided an end product having a defined composition and capable of being used to manufacture new products demanding very good rubber quality. For example, it is desirable in the art to develop a process that can recycle used automotive tires for the partial manufacture of new automotive tires. The objective of delivering high quality rubber end products from recycled rubber has proven difficult, however, the processes described herein provide a novel approach to manufacturing high quality products from recycled rubber.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention provides for methods, systems, and devices for processing rubber materials including rubber from tires, tubes, shoe soles, or any other rubber containing product. Characteristics of the rubber materials, such as chemical composition and/or product manufacturer, model, and manufacture date, can be identified. Identification can be performed by personnel, can be automated, or can be a combination thereof. The characteristics of the rubber material can be used to sort the rubber product. Rubber materials suitable for a particular end product can be selected for further processing, which can include size reduction, material separation, chemical and physical processes, devulcanization, or a combination thereof. Processed rubber materials can be stored or delivered to a user or manufacturing site with product specifications.
The personnel for identifying the input materials and/or overseeing the process can be trained to follow regulatory standards and/or any other standards. The personnel can be trained to identify the composition of the input material using any of a number of analytical techniques. The analytical techniques can be any analytical technique known to one skilled in the art.
The rubber materials can be processed such that contaminants, toxic materials, metal, or any other undesirable material is removed. The rubber materials can be processed such that the processed rubber product can be used in a selected process or for a selected product. In some embodiments of the invention, the rubber is processed such that the product will meet selected specifications. These specifications can include size, composition, mechanical properties, or any other characteristic described herein.
Equipment used to process the rubber materials can include rotary shears, conveyors, troughed out feed conveyors, dividing chutes, dividing conveyors, pre-shredders, magnetic tables, granulators, overband magnets, elevating conveyors, zig zags, cyclones, grids, and meshes. Other equipment used to process the rubber materials, described herein or known to one skilled in the art, can be used to process rubber materials.
INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE
All publications and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The novel features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. A better understanding of the features and advantages of the present invention will be obtained by reference to the following detailed description that sets forth illustrative embodiments, in which the principles of the invention are utilized, and the accompanying drawings of which:
FIG. 1 demonstrates assessment and selection procedures for manufacturing new products from recycled rubber.
FIG. 2 illustrates a high-level depiction of a controlled processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
FIGS. 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D demonstrate an exemplary system wherein after raw material, such as waste or redundant rubber, is selected by a process of the invention carried out by trained personnel, the specified raw material is delivered and loaded for a first shredding process. The bottom of FIG. 3A continues at the top of FIG. 3B. The bottom of FIG. 3B continues at the top of FIG. 3C. The bottom of FIG. 3C continues at the top of FIG. 3D.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Methods and processes are described herein that are useful in generating objects from redundant or recycled rubber, such as material to be substituted for new rubber and/or used rubber in the manufacture of tires. In an aspect, a process comprises: assessing redundant tires and/or waste rubber materials according to a compound formulae of the waste materials; and selecting materials to be separated from the waste materials, wherein the material is selected for the manufacture of an object; and separating the selected tires and/or waste rubber materials, wherein said separation is for processing the separated material for the particular end uses predetermined for the specific qualities of the selected redundant tires. This process may be undertaken in a novel way using electronic identification systems that select the tire in accordance with its known composition.
The processes and systems described herein may require significantly less energy, such as heat energy, cooling, and the addition of chemicals to generate a recycled rubber material than current methods of rubber recycling. In an embodiment, the processes and systems can reduce a carbon footprint and improve the sustainability of a rubber recycling method.
In an embodiment, after the waste materials have been assessed, selected and separated, two types of waste materials or more may be mixed to achieve an end product formula according to an end user. In a further embodiment, the mixing can be monitored within the controls incorporated within the process to regulate and manage the end product production.
In an embodiment, persons carrying out the duties of assessment and selection must have completed bespoke training courses that qualifies the operatives to be fully aware of the methods and process of selection. These training courses may be internationally recognized. The persons may also be aware of the adverse consequences of non compliance with laid down selection procedures. Additional process security can be carried out by inspectors exercising continuous audit of the selection procedures through sample inspections.
The assessment and selection process may be carried out in any approved and endorsed work suitable location so long as the selected products cannot then be interfered with prior to processing the products or materials carried out in the controlled environment within the process plant. In an embodiment, the suitable location is approved by a person with training in a process of the invention.
In an embodiment, a properly trained person performs the assessment and selection functions for quality control of the selection of the redundant materials. In another embodiment, the functions are performed by computer system based on criteria or input from or associated with the product itself. The process may have ISO process adherence. Personnel for performing functions described herein or for controlling a computer system for performing the functions can be trained, tested, and repeatedly examined to assure high quality control of the process that can often be important to many of the processes described herein. Personnel can also be provided consistent updates based on product details or changes in products.
In an exemplary embodiment, personnel for carrying out a process or selection process of the invention are trained to assess the redundant, recycled, or waste material based on a plurality of characteristics of the material. For example, the characteristics can include, but are not limited to, material type (for example, make and size), extraction of metal, wire or fiber from the material, process size, shape and granule type for a specific end application of the processed material, mixes of different characteristic process materials for an end application, and process volume and weight. After the initial assessment, all processes necessary to generate a new product or end application can be monitored by personnel or a computer system for the date and time of the process, the volume of the processed material, or any other item that may be desired regarding the characteristics of the final processed material for use in an end application.
The necessary processes may be determined by personnel and/or an automated system based on the desired end applications or products. For example, given a waste rubber material, trained personnel may determine performance characteristics for processing equipment. The processing equipment may be variable and programmable. For example, the speed of operation, speed of rotation, speed of conveyance, time, temperatures, strength, amount of power, treatment chemicals, and/or any other performance characteristic of an item of processing equipment may be varied (e.g., increased/decreased) and/or maintained to yield the desired end application or products. Processing equipment may include any of the devices and/or apparatuses described herein, including but not limited to rotary shears, conveyors, troughed out feed conveyors, dividing chutes, dividing conveyors, pre-shredders, magnetic tables, granulators, overband magnets, elevating conveyors, zig zags, cyclones, grids, and meshes. In some alternate embodiments, an automated system, such as a computer system, may determine performance characteristics for one or more processing equipment based on the waste rubber materials received and/or the desired characteristics for the end product.
In some embodiments, personnel may be provided with and/or interacting with a set of controls that may enable the personnel to perform the assessment or selection functions and/or carry out any of the steps described herein. The controls may be provided as any user interactive interface including but not limited to a computer interface, one or more screens, buttons, knobs, switches, levers, or any other set of interfacing devices. A user interactive interface may be configured to receive input from trained personnel. Such input may include but is not limited to input relating to sorting, material characteristics, material identification, identification or characteristics of desired end products, or processing equipment performance characteristics.
Input Materials and Identification
From the time that the redundant tire and rubber compound materials come into the control of the process regulations, the selected batches and the material that proves not fit for process can be identified with traceable tags or other devices that move with the batches through the process system until the end product is packed ready for use or shipment. In an embodiment, all of the end products carry clear and concise traceability tags with the constituent make-up formulae labels to describe the content. For example, the end products may be bar coded, RFID-tagged, or have other electronically identifiable devices. The tags may identify the batch and/or materials and said identifiers may be cross-referenced or provide access to a database or any other set of records that may have additional information about the materials. Such additional information may include information about material characteristics, age, features, intended end product, characteristics of an intended end product, and/or equipment performance parameters. Alternatively, the tags themselves may contain information about the batch and/or materials, which may or may not include the additional information discussed herein.
As a result of a recycling process providing a clear definition of the end product composition, the end products may be recycled again and repeatedly. For example, tracked recycled materials can be known and understood for the end use applications for which the materials are suited, which may also avoid or minimize material failure and health and safety issues. In another example, a process may require the identification of the composition of every tire manufactured for recycling to more easily and accurately control. A rubber material can be composed of a variety of components, including isoprene, sulfur, ebonite, 3-methylisoprene (2,3-dimethyl-1,3-butadiene), thiokol, divinylacetylene, neoprene, isobutylene (2-methylpropene), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (NBR), cis-1,2-polyisoprene, cis-1,4-polybutadiene, polyurethane, ethylene-propylene terpolymer rubber (EPDM), metal, steel, pigment, and carbon black. Additional components can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,240,587, 5,157,176, 5,236,992, 5,375,775, 5,634,599, 5,883,139, 6,407,180, and 6752940, each of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. Table I lists a variety of components that can be identified in various rubber compositions. Table II lists a variety of components that can be identified in redundant tires used for trucks and passenger cars in the European Union and Tire rubber from Canada. Approximately 80% of the weight of car tires and 75% of truck tires can be rubber compound. In some instances, the compositions of tires produced by different manufacturers can be similar or dissimilar. Tires can contain approximately 1.5% by weight of hazardous waste compounds, as shown in Table III. These compounds can be encased in the rubber compound or present as an alloying element. Any of these components can be identified by personnel or by automated processes and used to identify a rubber material to be processed, to identify a selected end product, used to separate the rubber material during processing, or used as a criteria for separation of the rubber material during processing.
Composition C: SBR Rubber
N-330 Carbon Black
N-330 Carbon Black
Oil (Sundex 790)
Sunproof Improved Stabilizer