MURILLO EL FRUTO, Spain—Lehigh Technologies Inc., the Tucker, Ga.-based producer of micronized rubber powders from end-of-life tires and post-industrial rubber, has completed its new MRP production facility in Murillo el Fruto.
The plant, located in a village in the northern Spanish province of Navarra, has an annual production capacity of 10,000 metric tons of MRPs, according to Lehigh.
The first Lehigh production facility outside of the U.S., the Murillo el Fruto plant was commissioned in late June, and it incorporates Lehigh's proprietary cryogenic turbo mill technology to manufacture MRPs.
Jex Engineering Co. Ltd., a Grimsby, England-based engineering firm, executed construction of the Murillo el Fruto plant with support from the Dennis Group and Air Products & Chemicals Inc., according to Lehigh.
The Lehigh production line is located next to the operations of Indugarbi NFU, a leading Spanish tire recycler operated by Lehigh's Spanish partner, Barcelona-based HERA Holding.
Lehigh began its association with HERA in 2014 and signed a full joint venture agreement with the company in 2016, according to Lehigh CEO Alan Barton.
"Before the completion of the Navarra plant, HERA sold us granulate from end-of-life tires sourced in Spain, and shipped it to the U.S.," Barton said. "We made the MRPs in Tucker and shipped them back to Spain, to meet the European Union's content regulations."
Lehigh became a wholly owned subsidiary of Michelin in October 2017 and now is part of the tire maker's High Technology Materials Business Unit. Lehigh, which has supplied MRPs to Michelin for the past 10 years, is an integral part of the tire maker's Sustainable Mobility Plan, in which it plans to have 80-percent recycled content in its tires and recycle 100 percent of its tires by 2048.
As in the U.S., Lehigh has several tire manufacturing customers in Europe and the Middle East, as well as many customers in non-tire applications such as bitumen, coatings, construction materials and polyurethanes.
"It's the same mix as in the U.S.," he said.
While nothing definitive yet, Lehigh plans at some point to have production facilities in other parts of the world. Asia and South America are next on the company's list, he said.
"But we were focused on Europe, because we had a significant amount of customers we had to supply," he said.