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!