San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago – [24 January, 2024] – The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) seized the opportunity to showcase a Pilot Facility for the manufacture of rubber crumb on the occasion of the visit to the Facility by the Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.
Rubber crumb, also referred to as ground rubber and rubber granules, is the primary output of the recycling of waste/end-of-life tyres. The demonstration project is intended to assist in addressing the adverse environmental and health hazards emanating from the indiscriminate disposal of tyres, as well as to contribute to the economic diversification thrust.
Rubber crumb is used primarily in the production of rubber asphalt, which is reputed as a superior road paving material. Studies have demonstrated that incorporating rubber crumb into asphalt enhances durability, reduces susceptibility to cracking, improves oxidation and aging resistance, and increases resistance to permanent deformation. The Rubber Crumb Pilot Plant is aligned with CARIRI’s commitment to Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) activities, aiming to create economic sustainability through technology transfer, business creation and expansion, and employment generation.
A Pilot Plant was established to undertake developmental work at the UTT Tarouba Campus in San Fernando. The plant, commissioned and capable of producing rubber crumb and rubber powder, is a testament to the project’s progress.
During her visit, Minister Beckles-Robinson witnessed the facility in operation and later toured the paving of a test strip with rubberized asphalt, located on Bharat Street in Tunapuna; which was made possible through the cooperation of the Tunapuna-Piarco Regional Corporation. A local contractor was sourced to pave fifty metres of the test strip with rubberized asphalt mix and an additional fifty metres with a standard bitumen material so that the performance of both portions can be compared and monitored over a twelve (12) month period.
The Minister expressed her delight at the project, stating that “the operation of the pilot plant and the paving exercise will help us to determine the commercial potential of transforming waste tyres into valuable resources. This innovation in the local context explores the incorporation of rubber crumb into asphalt mix for road paving, contributing to sustainable road construction and paving practices in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Mr. Hans-Erich Schulz, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, also expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “at the heart of innovation, the Rubber Crumb Pilot Plant stands as a testament to our commitment to sustainability. Over the next year, CARIRI’s goal is to generate the data through meticulous testing and monitoring of the durability of our groundbreaking mix, paving the way for informed decision-making. This pilot plant not only signifies progress but also holds the key to a sustainable future.”
In addition to road paving, potential value-added applications of the crumb include waterproofing solutions, membrane liners, mats, tiles, fuel for cement kilns, feedstock for carbon black production and artificial reefs in marine environments.
The potential benefits of the Rubber Crumb Project to the national economy include mitigating environmental and health impacts, adopting recycling for waste tyre management, improving road durability, expanding local production, creating new businesses, generating employment, and earning foreign exchange through exports.
At the invitation of CARIRI and the UTT, media representatives and stakeholders accompanied the Minister in touring the Pilot Plant and the test paving exercise.
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