Funded by the EU in May, 2020 for the circular economy of tyres, BlackCycle partners have announced the project's launch.

Coordinated by Michelin and uniting seven industrial partners, five Research & Technological Organisations (RTOs), as well as an innovation cluster into a European consortium in five countries, the BlackCycle project aims to enable a circular economy of tyres by designing processes to produce new tyres from end-of-life tyres (ELTs).

The BlackCycle project involves 13 organisations in a European public-private partnership, which will demonstrate the technical, environmental and economic viability of circular processes.

The consortium will develop specific solutions to produce sustainable raw materials for tyres: ELT collection and feedstock selection, pyrolysis2 optimisation, oil refining and valorisation, furnace process optimisation and sustainable tyre performance assessment.

As early as five-six years after the project, close to one out of every two European ELTs will be incorporated into the only virtuous cycle of this magnitude among all industrial sectors for the recovery of end of life products.

Funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, BlackCycle benefits from an overall budget of around EUR16m (US$19m) with an allocated European funding of around EUR12m (75% of project costs). About 35% of the project funding is allocated to SMEs, 15% to RTOs and 34% corresponds to personnel costs.

The consortium covers five European countries: France, Spain, Germany, Greece and Switzerland and includes seven industrial partners, five RTOs and an innovation cluster.

Coordinated by Michelin, the consortium has designed a governance system involving a steering committee, a cluster synergies board and a technical support committee.

Some 1.6bn new tyres are sold worldwide each year, representing more than 26m tons and as many fall into the category of end-of-life tyres, providing a large and partially tapped potential for material recovery.

Today's ELT treatment processes are not circular and do not result in many raw materials, which can be reused in the tyre industry. More than half of EU end-of-life and second-hand tyres are exported to distant countries.

The BlackCycle project aims at creating, developing and optimising a full value chain from ELT feedstock to Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs), with no waste of resources in any part of the chain and specific attention for environmental impact.

These SRMs will be used to develop new ranges of passenger car and truck tyres, which will be sold commercially in European and global markets.