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According to a Lucintel survey, the 2018 specialty carbon black market reached US$1.8 billion. Due to its increased demand in the construction, building, packaging, automobile industry, plastic, and coating sectors, the figure is expected to reach US$2.5 billion in 2022. Against this backdrop, Taiwan’s Continental Carbon is expanding its product reach.
The huge growth of the carbon black market has attracted major carbon black proprietors to engage in specialty carbon black product research, taking an active approach towards seizing the opportunities presented in the market.
The only carbon black manufacturer in Taiwan, Continental Carbon, a business affiliated to the CSRC Group, ranks sixth globally in terms of capacity, and operates bases in the US, Asia, India, and Europe.
The firm says it has long been committed to R&D and the active development of specialty carbon black products, having recently introduced its ultra-clean JE88 carbon black.
Advantages of non-grit JE88
Grit in carbon black is an impurity. It cannot be mixed with rubber and does not display reinforcing effects, and it also affects the colouration and rubber performance. Thus, the first goal of carbon black manufacturers is to reduce the impurity content.
Thus, Continental Carbon has developed its ultra-clean JE88 carbon black, with the grit value controlled at 10-30 ppm. In addition to better purity, compared to the granular N550 carbon black, Continental Carbon says it has also improved the carbon black pelletising technology to reduce the hardness of granules.
Compared to N550, JE88 features the following advantages:
- Improving process efficiency and enhancing reinforcement
- When mixing carbon black and rubber, the mixer must first pulverise rubber and carbon black granules. The lower the hardness of carbon black granules, the easier it is for pulverisation. In addition to saving mixing time and improving process efficiency, it allows for a more even distribution of carbon black in the rubber and better reinforcement.
- Replacing N550 to enhance product yield
- The physical and chemical properties of JE88 are comparable to those of N550. For rubber products with high purity and yield requirements, JE88 can directly or partially replace N550, without any changes to the product formula as a result of the carbon black replacement. The higher purity will then ensure a substantial increase in yield.
- Reduced process costs and a wider range of applications
- JE88 has a low impurity content, making application on product surfaces purer, with a wider range of rubber applications. At the same time, it decreases the speed of extruder plugging and reduces the number of screen replacements, thus greatly reducing processing costs. Other features are its excellent colouration, allowing it to be applied in cable insulation shield materials. Its high-purity characteristic makes it an excellent additive for high-grade rubber products, providing rubber products with good reinforcement, abrasion resistance, and flexibility.
R&D vital for new product development
In recent years, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Economic of Affairs has actively promoted high value-added petrochemical industry projects, in the hope that while researching and developing high value-added petrochemical products, a circular economy can also be implemented.
Specialty carbon black featuring high purity, better dispensability, and outstanding colouration competency not only enables it to achieve better performance in rubber product applications, but also reduces the cost of the industrial processes, increasing process efficiency and environmental friendliness, says Continental Carbon.
Circular economy in the carbon black sector
Recently, Continental Carbon Taiwan was granted the Circular Economy Accomplishment Award by the Taiwan Chemical Industry Association (TCIA) for its achievements in the circular economy.
Continental Carbon Taiwan uses the bottom residue, the fuel oil, which is a fairly contaminated substance from the petroleum and steelmaking industries, as a material.
The fuel oil is sprayed into a high-temperature reactor exceeding 1,000OC, where the toxic substances of fuel oil are decomposed, producing the high-value carbon black.
Carbon black can be used in applications such as tyre manufacturing, rubber mechanical products, chemical fibres, dyes, coatings, printing inks, and conductive and shielding materials in electronic communication components.
Continental Carbon also says the high-heat tail gas produced in the production process of carbon black is used back in cogeneration boilers to generate steam and electricity. Other than self-use, it can be sold to factories.
This not only promotes efficient use of power consumption but also reduces air pollutants, such as sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide that are discharged when burning fuel.
In 2018, Continental Carbon Taiwan produced 607,000 tonnes of steam, 488,000 tonnes of which was sold to factories operating in the vicinity. The remaining steam was used to generate 17,838,150 kW of electricity, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 59,000 households/month in Taiwan.
Moreover, Continental Carbon Taiwan has started wastewater recycling, by collecting rainwater from gutters. After purifying the water, it is reused in the production process of carbon black, reducing the consumption of natural water and increasing the ratio of the use of recycled water.
In 2018, Continental Carbon Taiwan recycled 240,000 tonnes of water, equivalent to the consumption of 866,000 households/day.
The company also says it has invested more than US$31 million in its environmental policies in Asia, with US$455 million invested globally to upgrade its desulphurisation and denitrification facilities and the optimisation of smoke exhaust, wastewater discharge, and deodorisation technology.
Furthermore, the company says it does not only solve the problem of heavy oil processing in upstream industries but also extends the idea of the circular economy to downstream industries, with the development of its high-additive carbon black products.
The company will participate in the 19th International Exhibition on Rubber Technology in Shanghai at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, Pudong, China, from 18-20 September, at N2 Hall; Booth: 2A547.