ORNL and RJ Lee Group Win R&D 100 Award for Waste Tire Process


R&D Magazine has announced that scientists from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and RJ Lee Group (RJLG) have been presented with an R&D 100 Award for their work on a proprietary process that repurposes discarded automobile tires as a source of carbon powder. The hydrocarbon byproduct can be modified and integrated into lithium-ion battery anodes, an innovative method of reducing waste from one of the largest sources of modern waste.

old tires in a landfillMaterial chemists from ORNL devised the process, which shreds and cryogenically pulverizes the tires into a powder, then soaks the powder in sulfuric acid and roasted in a furnace. This procedure recovers carbon composite powders with more than 50 percent of the original mass. Chemically similar to graphite, the carbon powder’s unique microstructure provides a longer cycle life and higher electrochemical performance than the best graphite anodes. A large-scale operation converting tires to battery materials could reduce the total cost of battery production by 11-12%, while improving the performance and electrical storage capacity of the final product.

Dr. Richard Lee and Dr. Alan Levine of RJLG worked with the ORNL team, led by Parans Paranthaman, Amit Naskar, Yunchao Li, and Kokouvi Akato. The project was funded by the DOE’s Office of Science and ORNL’S Technology Innovation Program. For more information about the project, please click here.

For fifty-four years, the R&D 100 Awards have recognized excellence in innovation for the research and design community, selecting the 100 most groundbreaking technology developments of the year. RJ Lee Group received this award in 1993 for the development of the PSEM, the first computer-controlled electron microscope. We congratulate the ORNL team, Dr. Lee, and Dr. Levine on their achievement.