Big Atom’s massive recycled plastics industry is made possible by used tyres.
What goes around comes around at Big Atom, the tyre recycler, whose circular economy goals will see capacity increased and a new processing unit that turns polymer waste into reusable oil and gas open this year.
The clean tech operator based in Ellesmere Port is currently raising £10 million in its first external investment round, with a turnover of £10 million expected in 2023. Big Atom, a three-year-old company founded and operated by chemical engineer Alexander Guslisty, has just recycled its one millionth worn tyre as it faces a massive challenge and potential. Every year, around 500,000 million tyres are abandoned, and each one contains steel and polymers containing litres of oil in addition to rubber.
The company’s reverse manufacturing process removes the raw materials and repurposes them into recyclable products of comparable quality to those made from fossil fuels, resulting in a circular economy.
Currently, feedstock comes from regional garages and MOT centers in the north west and north Wales, but as the company grows, its geographic reach will expand — the new plant alone will raise capacity by 150 percent.
The tyres are shredded, the steel withdrawn, and the rubber pounded into crumb in three varieties on site, in a masterchef-style procedure, each piece chemically consistent and in an ideal state for reinvention.
Big Atom recycles about half of its waste, which is used in the building industry and equestrian arenas. Another 30% goes to the steel industry, with the rest going to rubber surfacing for things like playgrounds.
Rubber dampens noise and saves energy by propelling cars forward, thus road construction and new flooring materials are also promising growth areas.
The true alchemy will happen with chemical recycling and Big Atom’s unique reactor, for which it got a £350,000 Innovate UK funding, with commercialization expected next year.
“Tyre recycling is phase one for us, and it has allowed us to establish a market presence while we develop our chemical recycling,” Guslisty continues.
The plastic or polymer waste is regenerated into oil via pyrolysis, a heat process without oxygen, while the gas produced powers the reactors. Carbon black, sometimes known as charcoal, is another by-product.
Big Atom’s revolutionary innovation lowers the cost of technology, allowing it to take the lead. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”