Quality Waterjet Newsletter 04/18/2006

Waterjet Dismantling of Automobile Tires


In 2002 Cornier et al. * reported a study of an interesting waterjet application --- dismantling of automobile tires with high pressure waterjets. The main ideas will be highlighted here.


Some statistics about automobile tires:


  • >10,000,000 tons of tires are produced every year around the world
  • Only < 10% are recycled
  • Only < 1% are recycled in an economical way


Their study is to use waterjets to separate rubber from the metallic structure while producing a very fine rubber powder that can be used for pavement, sport ground, or schoolyards. Their exploratory experiments include these parameters: 


  • The part of the tires (tread, sidewall, heel)
  • The structure of the tires (number and nature and layers)
  • Nozzle stand-off distance (5 – 50 mm)
  • Slant angle of jet/matter (90 to 30°)
  • Type of nozzle (rotary, flat, etc)
  • Nozzle diameter (0.1 – 0.5 mm)
  • Number of nozzles (single and multiple)
  • Water pressure (1000 to 4000 bars)
  • Water flow
  • Traverse speed (50 – 500 mm/min)
  • Rotational speed ( upto 1300 rpm)
  • Jet direction relative to traverse direction (same or opposite)
  • Traverse direction relative to thread or cable


Their findings include the following:


  • The feasibility of the principle (separate rubber from metals and turn it into a fine powder) is proven.
  • However the jet failed to strip some of the rubber that is shielded by the metallic structure.
  • The optimum traverse speed for a 4-jet rotary head (0.2 mm nozzle diameter) at 2500 bar of pressure is about 100 mm/min.
  • The jet traverse direction should be parallel to the tread.
  • Rotation speed of nozzle head has no significant impact.
  • The direction of traverse speed should be opposite to that of jet velocity.


The use of intersecting jets is helpful in removal of the rubber.


* Cornier, A., Cornier, S., and Froelich, D. (2002) Automobile tyres dismantling by high pressure water jet, Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Water Jetting, Aix-en-Provence, France, October 16-18, pp 567-581.

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