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A second company is interested in locating what could be the first commercial operation in the western hemisphere using heat to recycle tires.

Ronald Wilder, president and chief executive officer of Titan Industries Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M., said Wednesday the former Union Carbide plant at 3501 Hyde Park Boulevard is one of several sites being considered for a facility using his company's process for converting tires into usable raw materials.

Wilder was here recently to inspect the site and discuss the project with Nicholas Curtis, town economic development officer. Wilder estimated the cost of readying the operation at $5 million to $6 million, excluding the cost of land and an existing building which could be used.

Another company, Thermal Systems Inc. of Fairport, has been discussing a similar project at the same site.

George T. Caley, Thermal Systems vice president, has talked to Curtis and the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

Caley told town residents in June that his company would seek $8.5 million in financing through the NCIDA for a $11.4 million project which would employ 36 to 40 workers.

Caley has been in touch with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but his company has yet to submit a request for a permit. Caley could not be reached Wednesday to comment on the status of the project.

Both Titan Industries and Thermal Systems employ pyrolysis -- heating without oxygen -- to convert tires through thermal distillation to component substances.

The process has been around a long time, but "economically it has not proven to be viable," said Michael Blumenthal, executive director of the Scrap Tire Management Council in Washington, D.C.

"Technically it's doable," but more than 60 attempts to make the process commercially viable have failed in the last 15 years, he said. Blumenthal had heard that an operation was under way in Korea, but he said market and environmental conditions may be quite different there.

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