RJ Lee Group, Inc., a scientific consulting laboratory in Monroeville, Pa., has signed a licensing agreement with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for technology that converts waste rubber, such as used tires, into carbon black composites. Developed by ORNL’S Amit Naskar, Parans Paranthaman, and Zhonghe Bi, this innovative technology could introduce a new market for more than one billion tires that are generated around the globe each year. Typically, these tires are either sent to landfills or used as filler material in rubber, plastics, artificial turf, asphalt, and civil engineering applications. The properietary pre-treatment process produces carbon material that can be incorporated into supercapacitors, batteries, water filtration, and catalysis technologies.
“This process represents a major breakthrough in the utilization of more than two percent of the nation’s solid waste and will materially improve the price and performance of advanced energy storage technologies,” noted Dr. Richard Lee, CEO of RJ Lee Group. “We are delighted to collaborate with ORNL in this technology transfer effort. The project symbolizes the ideal relationship between the fundamental research capabilities of a national laboratory and a small high-tech business in commercializing innovative technologies.”
“Our success in producing higher performance carbon composites from waste tire rubber for potential use in energy storage applications adds a new value to recycled tires,” reported ORNL’s Naskar. Researchers at ORNL placed the recovered carbon into the anodes of lithium-ion batteries, also called “watch” or “coin” batteries, and test results indicated faster charging rates and a higher capacity than conventional graphite batteries. In addition, the carbon black composites could even be used as an alternative to the graphite, resulting in an approximately 10% lower lithium-ion battery cost.
According to Paranthaman, “The next step is to scale up the production of the carbon materials so that we can replicate the lab-scale performance in larger format cells.” ORNL and RJ Lee Group will collaborate to further this new technology through a privately-funded sponsored research project.