Wearing your recycled tyre as a fragrance is not as far-fetched as you think. Thanks to developments made in the technology space, waste tyres are proving to be versatile and can create new commercial opportunities beyond those offered by existing tyre recycling technologies.
Limonene, which is a liquid oil that can be derived from waste tyres through a method call pyrolysis, is the scientific name for the colourless liquid. Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen. The limonene chemical compound manifests in two ways, as l-limonene or d-limonene. The d-limonene typically smells like a citrus fruit, has a sweet citrus odour that is used to make fragrances and flavours, and is found in many citrus fruits, cosmetics and personal care products.
The l-limonene tends to have a more sour turpentine-like scent, mixed with pine, and is used primarily as an alternative solvent for cleaning products, many of which can be found in your household. It can also be found in products used in the removal of oil from machine parts, as a paint stripper, a botanical insecticide and it is also useful as a fragrant alternative to turpentine.
Currently, the majority of waste tyres are re-used as ground rubber in asphalt or in artificial sporting grounds. In order to further capitalise on the opportunities found in waste tyres, in South Africa REDISA has undertaken partnerships with two leading institutions to build knowledge and expertise for the country, specifically dealing with the conversion of waste tyres into chemical products, and creating design processes for South African conditions. This will create new commercial opportunities beyond those offered by existing tyre recycling technologies.