Banner Ad

Circular Economy: Racing Tyres Become Forklift Tyres

Continental uses carbon black from recycled racing tyres in its production of solid tyres. To this end, a total of 300 CrossContact Extreme E racing tyres were processed using a special pyrolysis process. With this initiative, the premium tyre manufacturer is integrating sustainable circular economy solutions into its tyre production. By recovering carbon black, virgin raw materials can be saved and CO2 emissions reduced. Since September 2023, Continental has been producing solid tyres – whose main application is on forklifts – with recycled carbon black at its plant in Korbach (Germany). Both recycled car and truck tyres are used to produce these tyres

“By recycling our Extreme E racing tyres, we are raising awareness of the significant potential of tyre pyrolysis. We are in no doubt that cutting-edge and highly efficient pyrolysis processes will make an important contribution to increasing sustainability in the tyre industry,” says Matthias Haufe, Head of Material Development and Industrialisation at Continental Tires. “We already use circular raw materials in our tyre production. By 2050 at the latest, we are aiming to have 60 percent tyre to tyre circularity. Our goal is to use fossil raw materials ever more sparingly and at the same time further reduce our CO2 emissions.”

Together with its partner Pyrum Innovations, Continental is currently developing processes to further optimise and expand the recycling of end-of-life tyres through pyrolysis. For instance, recovered industrial carbon black is to be used in an increasing number of Continental rubber compounds going forward. Pyrum processes end-of-life tyres into their individual components using its patented pyrolysis technology. This allows valuable raw materials from end-of-life tyres to be extracted and recycled. The main examples here are oil, gas and industrial carbon black. The recovered oil can be used for various purposes, including to manufacture chemicals. Crude oil would otherwise be used here. Recovered gas serves, among other things, as an energy source for the pyrolysis process.

Industrial carbon black is an important resource used as a filler in tyre production and in the manufacture of other industrial rubber products. The targeted use of carbon black in rubber compounds increases the stability, strength and durability of tyres. Together with Pyrum Innovations, Continental is currently developing processes that will continue to improve and expand the recycling of end-of-life tyres through pyrolysis. For instance, recovered industrial carbon black is to be used in an increasing number of rubber compounds.

Fully electric race series Extreme E shines the spotlight on sustainability

Continental is the exclusive tyre partner of the all-electric race series Extreme E, its CrossContact Extreme E racing tyres seeing action in the five X-Prix races of the 2022 season in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Chile and Uruguay. In the development of the second-generation Extreme E racing tyres, the company ensured an even higher proportion of sustainable materials were used. Indeed, the tyres were made up of around 43 percent recycled and renewable raw materials. These include silica from the ash of rice husks and the innovative ContiRe.Tex technology. Continental uses this technology to generate high-performance polyester fibers that reinforce the tyre casing. It does so by recycling PET bottles, which would otherwise frequently end up in incinerators or landfills. “As well as using sustainable materials, it was also important to us to recycle our racing tyres. As part of a closed-loop system, these will now become the starting material for new tyres,” says Nels von Schnakenburg, Technical Manager for Extreme E at Continental.

Continental had already recycled the tyres used for the 2021 season in Extreme E under the banner “Turning racing tyres into living space”. The tyres were used to produce 400 square metres of rubber paving stones. Continental then donated the paving stones to be part of a new basketball court in Hanover that provides local children with a lively place to play, burn off energy and train. Continental has gone a step further with the recycling of the tyres from the 2022 season of the sustainable electric race series by channeling the recycled materials back into tyres

Circular economy is an integral element of Continental’s sustainability strategy

The use of recovered carbon black from end-of-life-tyres is an important step towards more circular business practices in Continental’s tyre production. The company is working tirelessly to advance innovative technologies and sustainable products and services throughout its entire value chain, from sourcing sustainable materials to recycling end-of-life tyres. Continental is aiming to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality throughout its value chain by 2050 at the latest.