Archive for August, 2009

Why CarbonBlack?

Our Website is named CarbonBlack- because that’s what tyres are made of – right?

Well, partly – about 35% of a tyre is carbon black.
So what is it? And where does it come from?

As with most things these days “Oil” is the answer, which is one of the reasons why tyres cost so much.

Carbon black USED to be made from burning natural gas in insufficient air, and collecting the smoke that resulted, rich in carbon, on cooled metal surfaces. This was sometimes called “lampblack’, or later “channel black”. The pollution it caused was indescribable, let alone the waste that escaped to the atmosphere.

So another process took over in the early 1950s, called “furnace black”. Oil was burned inside a furnace in insufficient air, and the resulting carbon collected at the outlet. Dependent on the type of oil burned, the design of the furnace, the operating temperature, the flow rates, nozzle design, and any number of variations, it was quickly discovered that the actual properties of the carbon black (still just carbon remember) could be varied.

A whole new family of carbon blacks resulted, from the smallest particle size, intensely black as used in printing inks, to the larger and softer grades used in say motor tubes, which had quite a grey colour, and all the grades in between.

But wait- there’s more, as the Demtel man used to say.

The actual surface of each carbon particle could also be varied, to be extremely absorptive or low absorption. This structure varied the way that the carbon molecules could be intimately mixed into the long chain rubber molecules, which affected the degree of reinforcement imparted to the rubber by the carbon black. This then had a direct affect on the physical properties imparted to the rubber by mixing it with carbon black, such as wear, cut resistance, tensile strength, stiffness (modulus), elasticity, heat build-up under flexing, and a host of other properties.

So the fast developing science of carbon black became dominant in the development of rubber compounds. Without carbon black, tyres would be slippery in the wet, would wear out very quickly (particularly when hot), and generally would not be suitable for today’s automotive uses. That’s just the tread. Other blacks were designed for use in the casing, in the tubeless liner, bead compounds, bead stiffeners, and the many other applications used in a tyre.

The name of our web site pays homage to its importance to the rubber industry.

Terrible stuff to get out of your skin though. I couldn’t wear a white shirt for years!

August 14, 2009 at 11:50 pm 3 comments

If tyres burn, why don’t we set them alight and save the planet?

Riots in the streets are nearly always accompanied by stacks of burning tyres defining the no-go zone. They burn very well, although smokily. Once started, they’re almost impossible to put out.

So why aren’t they used more widely as fuel if they burn so well. After all, there is a millions of tyres discarded worldwide every year. They are no good for landfill, because they don’t decompose, and are hard to keep below the surface. In fact, I know of a pile of over 200 million tyres outside L.A. waiting for someone to devise a use for them.

Furnaces to burn them have been developed, and the resulting heat used to raise steam, or for central heating. These take either whole tyres, or shredded tyres, use a conveyor feed system to load the furnace, but somehow haven’t been widely adopted. Someone has to load the conveyor, too!

The reason for non-adoption is possibly “acid rain”. When rubber is vulcanised, it is combined with sulphur. This process cross links the rubber molecules, and converts the rubber material into a stable, three dimensional lattice, which is elastic. The level of sulphur is generally 1 to 2 percent. This level of sulphur is around the same as for high sulphur coal. When burnt, (oxidisation) it becomes sulphur dioxide, and other oxides such as sulphur tri-oxide, dependent on the air/fuel mix. Burn coal, you get carbon dioxide, burn tyres you get sulphur dioxide. High sulphur coals are very much out of favour.

In the atmosphere, these oxides of sulphur combine with water to form sulphuric and sulphurous  acid, which pollutes the air, kills vegetation and our forests which are the lungs of the world.

So a great deal of research into the design of the furnace to minimise these effects and scrub the exhaust gases clean of smoke and pollutants is required, which makes the furnace more expensive.

Then there’s the costs of collecting the old tyres, sorting , classifying, shredding, and the costs of disposal of the ash that results from the burning, though the steel content can be recovered as slag from the furnace grate. However, there awaits big rewards for the designer of a furnace that will be easily portable, has a captive market for its product (heat), and a ready supply of worn out tyres available at preferably no cost.

August 6, 2009 at 7:26 am 3 comments

Yahoo! / Microsoft Deal – and what this changes for us

Two weeks ago we discussed the algorithm changes in Google that was largely commented among Search Marketers and ended the article with a nice tease “pack your bag for Bing”. Now it’s official, with the Yahoo! / Microsoft deal on search, you can definitely pack!

What is the deal between Yahoo! and Microsoft about?

This deal means Yahoo search engine will be replaced by Bing. Bing becoming Yahoo! + Microsoft’s only search engine.  If you do the maths, even with minimum numbers, Bing should grow naturally to a 15% market share in search.

That should only be a start as the deal was signed with a 10 year term and Microsoft will have full access to the entire Yahoo! core search technologies, meaning they should be able to further improve Bing and throw marketing dollars at it, whish they have already started doing!

Another major consequence is the merger of Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft Ad Center, bringing a strong player in the paid search marketing space…

What should YOU do, if you are in the automotive space online?

Clearly, it’s time to stop focusing on Google only. Microsoft has the motivation to catch up and this deal shows us that it’s not only about motivation!

Think about SEO for Bing, create a Bing webmaster account to ensure your website pages have been indexed by this engine, and check your rankings regularly.

Then, it’s time to diversify your Search Engine Advertising and give the Microsoft Adcenter a try for your ads. You’ll first realise the average cost per click is cheaper than Google Adwords and conversions generally higher, but this is only due to the fact the competition is not as fierce as in google, and this is likely to change!

What’s the timeline?

Yahoo says the entire operation will take 24 months to be completed. Therefore, you don’t have to rush just right now, but this deal will still bring a lot of changes for all online businesses and it’s better to anticipate it.

At CarbonBlack we rank better in Bing than in Yahoo. That’s a good start, but we’ll be providing better insights on how to best leverage Bing, be it organically or in regards with paid advertising to all our clients.

If you are a tyre dealer, a mechanic, a car dealer, an automotive brand… you can let the CarbonBlack experts worry about what happens between Bing, Google and Yahoo!.

Become a member now and CarbonBlack will start sending you qualified leads at the lowest cost in the market.

August 4, 2009 at 11:15 pm 1 comment