In many places, devulcanization is still in the laboratory phase, but initial successes can already be seen. In addition to pyrolysis, devulcanization is a relatively new, promising recycling process for tires.
With the usual material recycling methods, old tires and rubber waste are reused in the form of rubber powder or granules in alternative, new products such as floor coverings or asphalt. Devulcanization processes offer the possibility of not only processing used tires as a secondary raw material in other products, but also of reusing the raw material as a starting material without any loss of quality - for example in the manufacture of tires.
Tires are made of vulcanized rubber, which makes them more durable and resilient. Vulcanization is a process in which natural rubber is heated and sulfur is added to form a network structure of sulfur bridges between the rubber molecules. During devulcanization, this crosslinking structure is broken down in vulcanized rubber. Breaking down the sulfur compounds of rubber elastomers makes it possible to obtain high-quality recycled material that can be used again in new rubber compounds.
There are various methods for the devulcanization of elastomers, e.g. B. mechanical-chemical, chemical and biological processes as well as high-performance ultrasonic technology.