The University of Waterloo’s latest research commercialization, Tyromer Inc., officially opened its facility in Kitchener on Sept. 18. Tyromer is a company established by UW to commercialize the research of professor Costas Tzoganakis on rubber devulcanization. The process invented by Tzoganakis, a chemical engineering professor, turns scrap tire rubber into a new rubber material, Tyromer-TDP (Tire-Derived Polymer), effectively recycling the tire.</p>
“We started 10 years ago — it was a side project at the beginning when we started to work on extrusion of plastics material. We went through different stages: lab stage, pilot scale, and eventually this,” said Tzoganakis.
Located inside the AirBoss Rubber Compounding plant in Kitchener, the opening was attended by UW president Feridun Hamdullahpur, Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile, and dignitaries from AirBoss.
“Environmental and clean tech is a very critical sector for Ontario and you [Tyromer] are playing a very large part in that,” said Vernile. “Our environmental and clean tech sector is worth an estimated eight billion dollars in annual revenues and one billion in exporting earnings.”
Tyromer Waterloo is the result of efforts by UW, the Ontario Tire Stewardship, and AirBoss Rubber Compounding. During its development, Tyromer also received funding from Michelin Development Company and Ontario Centres of Excellence. AirBoss Rubber Compounding helped to validate Tyromer-TDP as a viable rubber compound replacement in the manufacturing of tires, as well as technical assistance in the setup of the Kitchener facility.
“Not only does it [Tyromer Inc.] signify why we do what we do at our universities, it is helping our economy and helping our environment. It is showing that years and years of investment in research infrastructure at our universities paid back in this form,” said Hamdullahpur. “It speaks volumes to the university’s vision many, many years ago — if you develop an intellectual property, it belongs to the creator. As a result you are seeing again this outcome.”
According to Sam Visaisouk, CEO of Tyromer, “each year more than 300 million scrap tires are generated in North America.” Tyromer Waterloo will be the first to produce Tyromer-TDP, with a capacity for up to one million tires recycled each year.