The Solution to the Rubber Problem

In In the 1840s, Charles Goodyear invented the process that turns the soft gum from the rubber tree into the hard rubber used in tires or mats or shoe soles. The process is called vulcanization. Vulcanization is a chemical reaction between the rubber, sulfur, and other chemicals. It makes rubber much stronger, more pliable, and durable.

The problem with vulcanization is, there’s no way to reverse it. So once you’ve turned the rubber into a tire, there’s no way of recycling it. As the situation stands today, we burn old tires in power plants and cement kilns. It’s less polluting than coal, but it still releases thousands of toxins into the air.

Grinding old rubber into crumbs and mixing it with asphalt to make roads is another way we dispose of old tires. Or we mix the crumbs with glue to make running tracks and playground surfaces.

Last year, the world discarded 1.3 billion tires. americans change 300 million tires every year. here’s what america does with its old tires:

45%  burned for fuel

19%  civil engineering

10%  size reduction

10%  unknown

9%    landfill

4%    other

3%    dumped in third-world countries

The person who finds a way to reverse the vulcanization process and turn car tires back into “virgin rubber” will make a fortune. And that’s exactly what vinod sekhar says he’s got… And he thinks it’s going to make him a billionaire.

With a $350 million fortune, vinod is the 16th richest person in malaysia. He started his fortune selling t-shirts with college logos in the united states. Now he owns petra group, a company with interests in financial software, internet provision, movies, publishing, and more.

I’m traveling around asia looking for investment opportunities. I met vinod last week in kuala lumpur. He calls his new technology “green rubber” and says it’s going to revolutionize the rubber industry…

Vinod has a patent on a product called delink. When you mix this product with crumbed rubber, two parts delink to 100 parts rubber, you get a chemical reaction that turns vulcanized rubber into virgin rubber… Or green rubber.

Vinod’s green rubber is half the price of regular rubber. It helps the environment. And vinod says it performs as well as regular rubber in the major applications.

Consumers will love green rubber. But just in case they don’t, the u.S. House of representatives just introduced the tire act of 2008. The u.S. Government wants to create a recycled rubber industry. This act provides a $3-per-tire tax incentive for purchasers of tires made from recycled rubber.

Vinod’s big problem is the rubber industry. The rubber industry is one of the most conservative, traditional industries there is. Green rubber is a disruptive technology. The old guard will resist this change with all its might…

Will vinod’s green rubber company revolutionize the rubber industry, as he says? It is an interesting story… And i’m definitely going to keep an eye on vinod.