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NRAs 2014: Innovation of the Year – Equipment

Winner: Aquablast

Recyclatrack exploits the power of ultra-high pressure water jets to recover and recycle all the component materials of scrap rubber crawler tracks. About 50,000 composite steel and rubber tracks with an estimated weight of 12,000 tonnes are discarded each year in the UK, from mini diggers and excavators and other tracked vehicles.

The use of rubber tracks has increased as an obvious solution to the historical problem of steel-tracked vehicles causing damage to asphalt roads. Use of rubber tracks for lightweight, high-speed tracked vehicles has therefore expanded considerably.

“This is an innovative solution to a complicated waste product. It is impressive for not being driven by regulation but by an industrial problem that needed a solution. It solves a problem with a composite waste product, taking it back to its constituent materials for reuse.”

The Judges

Such tracks cannot be fed into conventional mechanical shredders because of the heavy steel cores which make up more than 60% of the weight of the track. This steel is unacceptable to the scrap industry while it is encased in heavy rubber because that material is a contaminant in any re-smelting process.

As a result, sc in skips of plastic, paper and general waste, fly-tipped, buried or even burnt in an attempt to eliminate the rubber from the steel. They have become a problematical waste stream, so track manufacturers, distributors and end users have been seeking an eco-compliant disposal solution, offering cost-effective separation of the steel and rubber.

Recyclatrack’s patent-pending process uses low volumes of water, itself recycled, to separate the rubber from the steel from the top and bottom of the track simultaneously. The solution stemmed from Aquablast’s expertise in ultra-high pressure water jet surface preparation and material separation technologies, and the development of Recyclatrack was assisted by the Technology Strategy Board and WRAP.

A plant is now fully operational in Suffolk, capable of taking all the estimated scrap track volume in the UK. It demonstrates a sustainable and scalable process for both the UK and the international market.

The Finalists:

  • Cynar
  • Derek Parnaby Cyclones International
  • Electrical Waste Recycling Group
  • F-Board
  • Scotia Gas Networks
  • Thermitech Solutions


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