MANCHESTER, England—A United Kingdom startup has developed new doormats based mainly on recycled rubber from end-of-life tires, offering both a solution for a long-life product and the increasing problem of tire waste.
SpaceMat uses a minimum of 80 percent recycled rubber, reinforced by graphene for enhanced properties, SpaceBlue Ltd. CEO Vivke Koncherry said in a written statement to ERJ on Oct. 14.
"By adding graphene into the SpaceMat, we improved its properties such as compression and this directly affected longevity," Koncherry said.
The addition of graphene also addresses the problem of particles or rubber crumb falling off the edge of the mat, which is the biggest concern of current products in the market, Koncherry said.
Supported by the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) at the University of Manchester and the European Union ERDF funding, Koncherry has tested and brought the product to the market and is in the process of filing a patent.
For its initial production, SpaceBlue has used tire waste from European sources, which meet the "substance of very high concern" requirements under REACH. Koncherry did not offer further details of the volume of scrap tires used for the production of each mat.
The company can produce about 2,500 mats per day, and is in the process of scaling the volume.
SpaceBlue is exploring private and crowdfunding options and Koncherry expects to commercialize production through a manufacturing site in India within a year.
In the second phase, production will be expanded by a "vertically integrated" facility in Manchester, the CEO said.
For the third phase, Koncherry wants to diversify products, establish new facilities through partnerships and license the technology to interested parties.
"We are already in talks with a Brazilian and Slovakian company to license the technology," Koncherry said. "In the future, we plan to use local waste for the local market and (be) made locally."
In the meantime, SpaceBlue is working on a series of products such as large, interlinking gymnasium mats and extra large antivirus doormats, which are expected to be ready in about the next six weeks.
The company also is looking for other mass-market applications using its rubber recycling platform technology.
SpaceBlue is a spin-off of GEIC, which supported the development of SpaceMat through its "bridging the gap" program.
The program is specifically aimed at supporting small and medium size enterprises, along with startups, in accelerating the introduction of graphene products into the market.