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US Leading Manufacturer Suggests Market May Suffer from Shortage of Carbon Black by 2020: Good News for Environmentalists Could Mean Trouble for Tire Industry

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Published on : Dec 15, 2015

Carbon black is an extremely fine, readily available form of basic carbon that is used as filler in automobile tires. One of the prime fillers used in tires, carbon black provides greatly improved heat-dissipation and wear characteristics to the rubber used in tires. Carbon black is also known to improve many features of a polymer at lower costs.

Also widely used in inks as pigments, in laser printers as toners, in copiers and polymers and coatings, the demand for carbon black is high in industrial circles. Its global market is, however, heavily reliant on the tire industry as a normal tire has 30% of carbon black on an average. The flourishing automobile industry across the globe in the past few years, especially the rising demand for a number of luxury automobile brands in developing countries has significantly propelled the global market for carbon black.
The recent years have been rough for the market though.

Carbon black is itself known to have adverse impacts on the ecosystem, human health, environment and climate. The manufacturing plants of carbon black, being high polluters, are also considered to be highly hazardous to the environment. Thus, several countries, such as the U.S., have adopted a strict regulatory stance regarding the reduction of impact of emissions from the production and use of carbon black in the past years.

Leszek Nikiel, the manager of the Texas Research center of Sid Richardson Carbon & Energy Co., one of U.S.’s largest manufacturers of carbon black, said at a recent tire industry conference that the strict regulations about production processes have definitely made production units self-contained and clean. However, the stiff regulatory stance of the country’s Environmental Protection Agency has also led to significant decrease in the overall production for the lack of cleaner alternatives for feedstock.

If the situation persists and the production of carbon black continues to decline, it would become difficult for the global carbon black industry to cope-up with the rising demand from the tire industry in the next few years. The news may have many good implications for the public and environmental health in general, but it can become a pressing issue for the tire industry. Shortage of carbon black for tires will inevitably lead to increased tire prices, and consequently to costlier automobiles.