Innovations for a Greener Future: Recycling 2013

By Steve Brachmann
April 23, 2013

Today our week-long Earth Day 2013 series  looks at several recycling innovations.

Recycling has been a major concern in America for the past few decades, but our methods of recycling and commitment to green living could still see major improvement. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency reported that Americans created about 250 million tons of solid waste in 2010, most of that ending up in landfills or as combustible fuel, which can create a lot of air pollution. Only 85 million tons of this waste was recycled during that year.

Many recent patents and patent applications have been released within the month by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that either improve on recycling methods or make better use of recycled material. A fully-recyclable cardboard bicycle that can bear heavy loads is the subject of one application. Halliburton Energy Services has also filed two applications for recycling asphalt and ceramic materials while drilling wells. Another application from fabric developer Tintoria Piana looks to reclaim cotton from old mattresses. Even diesel soot may see more reuse through recycling, thanks to an application assigned to Dearborn Financial. We’ve also found one very interesting patent awarded to a solo inventor from Missouri that can allow for the reuse of rubber from tires through heated vapor distillation.

It is doubtful that any one of these innovations is any kind of “silver bullet” solution, the good news is that individuals and corporations alike are focusing inventive efforts on improving and increasing recycling technologies.

Without further ado, here is a brief snapshot at some of the more interesting recent recycling innovations that caught our attention.

[Patent-Watch]

Recycling Cotton Fibers from Old Mattresses
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130078373

Many old mattresses will wind up in landfills after years of use, but more than 80 percent of mattresses can be recycled for various uses. The International Sleep Product Association reports that steel, polyurethane foam and wood from mattresses can be easily recycled for many applications. There are also applications for reclaimed cotton fibers from mattresses, but recycling methods are currently cost-prohibitive.

This patent application describes a new method of recycling cotton from mattresses as developed by Tintoria Piana, a Georgia-based fiber and carpet producer. This method would remove cotton from the most easily reclaimed areas of a mattress, including above the insulation pad and below the ticking fabric. These cotton fibers could be recycled into a new mattress material with which Tintoria Piana plans to make flame-retardant mattresses. The scouring process would also leave the cotton fibers with fewer bacterial traces than industry standards for paper products used in food handling.

Claim 1 of this patent application describes Tintoria Piana’s development of:

“A method of recycling cotton fibers, comprising the steps of: reclaiming cotton fibers from a plurality of mattresses to yield reclaimed fibers; cleaning the reclaimed fibers to produce cleaned fibers; treating the cleaned fibers with one or more flame retardant chemicals to produce flame retardant treated cotton fibers; and using the flame retardant treated cotton fibers in one or more new products.”

 

Recycling of Tires, Rubber and Other Organic Material through Vapor Distillation
U.S. Patent No. 8409406

Tires and other rubber products are another major landfill problem in America. There are methods of recycling carbon through heating, but most of these are either commercially impractical or create excessive pollution.

This system of recycling tires, invented by Harvey Buhr of Bonnots Mills, MO, involves a processing chamber that recycles rubber material through a vacuum distillation process. The processing unit involves a cart to hold tires set upon rails and wheeled into a vacuum-sealed unit where heat radiates from a central heating tube. The temperature of the unit can be controlled to create different commercially viable recycled byproducts.

Claim 1 of this patent protects a system involving:

 “A processor for recycling tires including; an insulated housing having an opening on one end, a cover for said opening, a source of heat, wherein said source of heat is connected to an exhaust flue and said exhaust flue includes a flexible joint, said flexible joint including a first exhaust pipe, a second exhaust pipe and an insulated coupling allowing relative movement between said first and second pipe without allowing leakage from said exhaust and further wherein said processor includes a scale for weighing said processor.”

 

Lost-Circulation Material Made From a Recycled Material Containing Asphalt
U.S. Patent Application 20130087330

Lost-Circulation Material Made From a Recycled Ceramic
U.S. Patent Application 20130087331

When constructing a subterranean well for any material, whether for water, oil or gas, a drilling fluid is used that cools the drill bit and maintains the proper pressure for drilling a well. This fluid is a slurry that contains lost-circulation materials (LCM), like concrete, that helps prevent the loss of fluid through subterranean absorption. However, traditional lost-circulation materials have dwindled in supply, creating the need for a new, low-cost solution.

Halliburton Energy Services, which manufactures equipment and provides services for the oil and gas industry, is trying to protect methods of creating new LCM from recycled material. These materials would include ceramics, such as from discarded toilets, and asphalt, which can be found in old roof shingles. These ceramic and asphalt materials would be recycled and used as LCM in wellbores. As Halliburton points out in these applications, this would help cut into the 12 million tons of waste glass and 11 million tons of waste roof shingles discarded each year in America.

Claim 1 of the ‘330 patent application, which focuses on asphalt recycling, states:

“A method of eliminating or reducing lost circulation from a well comprising: introducing a treatment fluid into at least a portion of the well, wherein the treatment fluid comprises: a lost-circulation material, wherein the lost-circulation material comprises asphalt, and wherein the lost-circulation material has a median particle size in the range from about 0.001 millimeters to about 25.4 millimeters.”

Whereas Claim 1 of the ‘331 application is seeking to protect:

“A method of eliminating or reducing lost circulation from a well comprising: introducing a treatment fluid into at least a portion of the well, wherein the treatment fluid comprises: a lost-circulation material, p3 wherein the lost-circulation material comprises a ceramic, and wherein the lost-circulation material has a median particle size in the range from about 0.001 millimeters to about 25.4 millimeters.”

 

System for Recycling Captured Agglomerated Diesel Soot and Related Method
U.S. Patent Application 20130055699

High-carbon soot is a regular emission created by the combustion of diesel gas and can be a very real health and environmental detriment. Especially in developing countries, air with high soot content is linked to respiratory problems and unnaturally warm climates. In America, emission control standards mandate that diesel gas can only give off 15 parts per million of sulfur oxide gas. However, ultra-low sulfur diesel is expensive and difficult to come by in developing nations. This matter is exacerbated by diesel emission control after-treatment (DECAT) systems, which burn soot trapped in filters to improve efficient diesel consumption, but also expel more greenhouse gases into the air.

This patent application, assigned to Dearborn Financial of St. Charles, IL, would introduce a system of thermochemical conversion into DECAT systems. The conversion would occur in a controlled chamber and create byproducts that would have “globally compelling benefits.” As the patent application states, useful tars or gases could be collected after the conversion process that could later be resold as materials.

As Claim 1 describes, this patent application seeks protections for:

“A method of recycling captured agglomerated soot captured by and collected from a diesel emission control after-treatment (DECAT) system, the method comprising: collecting captured agglomerated diesel soot (CADS) as a feedstock; loading the CADS into a controlled thermochemical conversion (TCC) process reactor; employing time-phased heat and pressure in the controlled TCC process reactor until the CADS sufficiently decompose to reclaim solids, liquid fuels and gases; piping pyrolysis oils (tars) and vapors produced in the controlled TCC process reactor to chambers; cooling and condensing the pyrolysis oils and vapors into a liquid form; and recirculating a pyrolysis gas produced in the controlled TCC process reactor for use as a source of heat and power.”

 

Recyclable Cardboard Bicycle 
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130076002

Consumers like to purchase bicycles that are both lightweight and durable, which allows for maximum speeds and service life. Bicycles that are constructed to meet these demands are often created from metals, plastics and other sturdy materials that are difficult to break down. When the bicycle becomes unused, either because of damage or poor appearance, the entire assembly is often thrown out, ending up in a landfill where it can sit for years without biodegrading.

This patent application, submitted by solo inventor Izhar Gafni of Hefer, IL, describes a method of constructing a usable bicycle that is completely recyclable. The application states that the bicycle would weigh about seven kilograms (15.4 pounds) and be able to bear loads up to 200 kilograms (441 pounds). The cardboard material creating the bicycle could be liquefied into slurry and dried back into the original material, from which a new bicycle could be created. Different embodiments of this invention could also take the form of a unicycle, tricycle or a scooter without peddles.

Claim 1 of this patent application describes:

“A human-powered land vehicle wherein said vehicle comprises: a. a frame; b. at least one wheel; and c. a hub arrangement; wherein the vehicle is sufficiently rigid to support at least one human rider; wherein the at least one wheel is coupled to the hub arrangement; wherein the hub arrangement is coupled to the frame; wherein the frame is formed of a pulpably recyclable material; wherein the at least one wheel is formed of a pulpably recyclable material; wherein the hub arrangement is formed of a shreddably recyclable material; and wherein the at least one wheel is adapted to rotate with the hub arrangement to propel the vehicle.”

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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