Tyres of all sizes are now regularly recycled, but rubber tracks pose additional problems in that they can be difficult to handle, and the cleats, metal or rubber, pose a challenge to the recycler. The steel cleats can’t be shredded, and the rubber cleats are bulky and take a lot of energy to shred.
Barnsley-based Exo-Track Ltd has developed a solution to the metal-cleat issue and is working on making the shredding of rubber cleated tracks more efficient.
Engineer Kevin Exton came up with an automatic cleat-removing process that extracts the ductile iron cleats from rubber tracks and allows them to be processed conventionally.
“These steel cleats have always been a problem,” Mr Exton said. “They can be cut out manually, but that’s time consuming, or they can be removed using high-pressure water jetting, but that’s a high-energy process. What we have at Exo-Track is a simple, low-energy process that simply extracts the iron cleat and lets us process the track conventionally.”
Exo-Track produces rubber crumb and granulate from the tracks, plus steel wire suitable for use in steel manufacturing or concrete reinforcement.
“The whole process is one that is part of every track recycling operation,” Mr Exton added. “Other processes still have to shred contaminated belting to recover rubber and to clean the wire for recycling. By removing the cleats we can cut out the high energy intermediate processing and just shred the tracks conventionally.
“That makes it sound simple, but the learning process has taught us there are some refinements needed to deal with rubber tracks. We’re looking very closely at our process and believe that, in future, we’ll be able to make the process even more efficient and environmentally friendly.”
In pre-production talks, a number of track manufacturers and importers have shown considerable interest in the process and negotiations are in place for Exo-Track to become the official track recycler for at least one large rubber manufacturer.
Tracks and conveyor belting can also be accepted for recycling at Exo-Track’s Barnsley site by appointment.
For more information visit: www.exo-track.co.uk.