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materials | Carbon black


when the carbon black product is used at a loading of 40% by weight or less. Turning to innovation, Haines says that, while Cabot


is always looking for the next generation products, “sometimes our work leads to small but valuable enhancements.” He cites two products that the company released this year: Black Pearls 630 specialty carbon black for consumer goods, which provides slightly better colour than existing grades such as Elftex 570 without sacrificing dispersion (Figure 1); and a grade under test for synthetic fibre, being targeted at the Asia market where the majority of polyester (PET) fibre is produced. The increasingly regulated use of carbon black in


plastics intended for food and skin contact applications is one of the faster moving global trends in the Birla Carbon Specialty Blacks business, says Paul Hoffman, Global Head of Marketing and Product Management. “Birla Carbon is able to support customers world-


Below: Birla says infrastruc- ture project growth in Asia is fuelling demand for its Conductex conductive carbon black grades


wide for these types of regulated applications through a global product stewardship programme,” Hoffman says. “We have recently developed Raven FC1 for US FDA (21 CFR 178.3297) regulated indirect food contact plastics applications. While this product is primarily targeted to North America customers, producers of food contact compounds across the globe are showing keen interest. Due to the global trade of compounds, packaging products and packaged foods, our customers in Asia, Europe and Latin America often have products that ultimately move into US markets.”


Conductive blacks Hoffmann says demand for conductive carbon blacks continues to increase, particularly in Asia where much of the world’s electronics manufacturing is located. Conductive carbon blacks are also used in compounds for power cable applications, where the company is see- ing significant growth based on infrastructure projects in Asia as well as manufacturers expanding into export


Figure 1: Graph showing how Cabot’s new Black Pearls 630 specialty carbon black combines colour strength with good surface quality and dispersibility


markets in the Middle East and the rest of the world. “A significant majority of the Conductex carbon


blacks we supply in Asia are produced in the region with performance characteristics suited to local needs, including strict physical and chemical cleanliness,” Hoffman says. “Overall, Asia continues to be the highest growth and most dynamic region in terms of specialty carbon black growth in thermoplastics.” Birla has had production and laboratory facilities for


the plastics industry in Korea since 2005. Hoffman says the company is “well underway in establishing the same level of innovative production technology in China. We continue to develop further capabilities for specialty black production expansion across Asia and the rest of the world.” At Imerys Graphite & Carbon, Benedetta Caprara,


Market Leader Europe, says the company’s investment strategy is focused on fuelling the growth in the special- ty carbon black market and addressing the key challenges of customers facing an increasing demand for electrically conductive products. Discussing product developments, Caprara says that in addition to ‘continuity’ innovations that result from improvements to the existing Imerys range, there are also ‘disruptive’ innovations based on the development of new concepts. She says, for example, that to meet the increasing demand for thermally conductive plastic materials for metal replacement in applications that require heat dissipation or heat transfer, the company has recently developed easy-feedable Timrex C-Therm additives that allow realisation of thermally conductive polymers with “outstanding” thermal conductivity at low loadings. Caprara also highlights the company’s philosophy of


Total Quality Management and continuous process improvement. She says Ensaco carbon blacks “are the


26 COMPOUNDING WORLD | November 2016 www.compoundingworld.com


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