The company managing the Kaunas FEZ has signed a contract with Polylema, UAB, which plans to build a laboratory research centre on a 0.4 ha plot. Polylema is part of the US group Rubinntec, and the new laboratory is dedicated to research, development and adaptation of the tyre recycling technology developed and patented by Rubinntec.
Construction of a 450 m2 building should start in the coming months, while the opening of the laboratory is scheduled for June 2021. The planned investment in the new research centre will amount to €2.8 million over three years – for equipment and staff, excluding the cost of the buildings and plot of land. The company currently employs three people and by the middle of next year, the team should grow to almost ten laboratory and administrative staff.
“Our research centre’s task is to transform the laboratory processes developed by Rubinntec into efficient, licensed and accurate manufacturing processes. In other words, to create cost-effective and efficient tyre recycling according to Rubinntec-patented technologies,” says Martynas Jankauskas, CEO of Polylema.
According to him, the business that developed this new technology was looking for favourable conditions for further sustainable development of tyre recycling. Europe’s increased favourability towards green projects and access to European support helped make this decision.
“The Kaunas FEZ was a good match for us from a logistics point of view – especially from the perspective of long-term development,” claims Mr Jankauskas.
In the new laboratory, the prototype idea will become reality and supplement the Rubinntec technology industrial tests currently being carried out in international laboratories.
“In order to produce a product, you need to first create a recipe, provide precise descriptions of the technological processes – only then can it be put on the market. This is what Polylema will do, and in the future it will sell both the technology and produce the reagents necessary for the process itself,” explains the company’s manager.
The new technology will consist of two main elements: a two-component combination of a compatibiliser and a catalyst for the tyre (the rubber particles) reprocessing reactor (recycling line), and the technological (working regimes) regulation of this reactor.
Three main directions are currently applied to address the issue of the utilisation of used tyres: reuse, incineration, or storage of rubber waste in specially adapted landfills. Mr Jankauskas points out that none of these methods allows for recovery of the rubber or pollution-free disposal of the tyres.
“Not everyone understands that simple mechanical shredding of the rubber without devulcanisation, and then putting it into asphalt or making a mat, are not sustainable solutions. For example, if normally-shredded rubber, when poured into bitumen, does not dissolve, then the tyres processed by our technology turn into a petroleum product that melts in hot bitumen like sugar in tea, thus yielding a homogeneous modified bitumen. Therefore, another task for Polylema will be the creation and use of recycled rubber products. Another example – even now, the possibilities to manufacture the soles of one of the world’s most famous sports footwear manufacturer’s shoes from such a recycled rubber product are being discussed,” says Polylema’s manager.
Polylema, which will start research in the summer, is to become yet another company engaged in R&D activity in the territory of the Kaunas FEZ: companies such as Freda, Elinta, and Axioma Metering are already carrying out the creation and development of research and innovation-based products.
The Kaunas FEZ provides the conditions for the establishment of businesses engaged in innovation development, businesses creating new materials, products and equipment, installing new or improving already existing processes. For this purpose, the Smartpark cluster is being brought together with the purpose of attracting smart specialisation companies and encouraging the companies already operating in the Kaunas FEZ to invest in the creation, development, and production of new products.