Continental uses carbon black from recycled tyres in new forklift tyres

Continental uses carbon black from recycled tyres in new forklift tyresTyre maker Continental is using 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 tyre manufacturer says it 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 in forklifts – with recycled carbon black at its plant in Korbach (Germany). Both recycled car and truck tyres are used to produce these tyres.

Matthias Haufe, Head of Material Development and Industrialisation at Continental Tires, adds, “We already use circular raw materials in our tyre production. By 2050 at the latest, we are aiming to have 60% 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 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.

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 of the 2022 season in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Chile and Uruguay.

In the development of the second-generation Extreme E racing tires, the company says it ensured an even higher proportion of sustainable materials were used, with tyres made up of around 43% recycled and renewable raw materials. These include silica from the ash of rice husks and the ContiRe.Tex technology. Continental uses this technology to generate high-performance polyester fibres that reinforce the tyre casing.

It does so by recycling PET bottles, which would otherwise frequently end up in incinerators or landfills.

Continental had already recycled the tyres used for the 2021 season in Extreme E under the banner “Turning racing tires into living space”. The tyres were used to produce 400 sq m of rubber paving stones.