Used tires accumulate in our garages and litter our natural environment. However, Chile-based company T-Phite is working on a project to convert old tires into a valuable industrial mineral: graphite.

Graphite is a vital component in electric vehicle (EV) batteries. If T-Phite can successfully scale its recycling process, it could transform piles of old tires into a valuable resource for powering our EV future.

The United States alone generates around 250 million scrap tires annually. This creates an ample supply for T-Phite’s innovative solution.

The T-Phite process, known as pyrolysis, involves breaking down tires at a molecular level using high heat. This results in the extraction of oil, steel, and carbon black. The company then converts the carbon black into graphitic material, which it calls t-phite.

Images of the process show old tires being fed into a machine resembling an old wringer-washer. While tire recycling is not a new concept, The Cool Down reports that less than half of the hundreds of thousands of discarded tires in the US are currently recycled.

China, a leader in graphite processing and production, has recently implemented graphite export regulations that raise concerns about the future supply chain, particularly for EV batteries. In this context, T-Phite’s efforts to expand its process globally become even more significant.

Industry watchers have been warning about EV battery shortages for some time. A report from last May predicted that General Motors’s 2025 EV production will be limited to under 600,000 vehicles due to battery shortages.

In addition, it will be extremely difficult for the US to increase graphite production through mining. There have been no active graphite mines in the US for over 30 years. Efforts to mine a recently discovered graphite deposit in Alaska are facing resistance from Native American communities.

Currently, T-Phite aims to scale up its scientific discovery to an industrial level. T-Phite CEO Bernardita Diaz is in discussions with investors who have expressed interest in the technology.

Image Source: Emanuel Tire