May 22, 2024

Recovered Carbon Black Market Growth Drivers: Environmental Concerns and Regulations

Recovered Carbon Black: A Sustainable Solution for the Future

What is Recovered Carbon Black?

RCB, also known as reclaimed carbon black or recycled carbon black, is produced from end-of-life tires through a process called pyrolysis. Through pyrolysis, tires are heated in the absence of oxygen, breaking them down into their chemical components including carbon black, oil, steel and gas. The carbon black is then recovered and processed to remove impurities and achieve properties similar to its virgin counterpart.

The Pyrolysis Process

Pyrolysis is carried out at temperatures between 400-800°C in stationary or rotating kilns. As tires are slowly heated, the rubber compound breaks down and the polymers within the tire decompose into smaller molecular fragments. The carbon black within the tires remains intact and is freed from other compounds. Any steel or fiber within the tires also becomes separated during this process. Off-gases produced during pyrolysis such as pyrolysis oil are also captured and may be utilized as fuel. Once cooling is complete, the carbon black is isolated through sorting and processing equipment.

Properties of RCB

On a molecular level, RCB is indistinguishable from virgin carbon black. Through optimization of the pyrolysis process and downstream treatment, the properties of RCB can match virgin grades. Key properties achieved include particle size, structure, surface area, purity and color. RCB has been shown to perform comparably to virgin grades in rubber and plastic applications in terms of properties such as abrasion resistance, rolling resistance and reinforcement.

Environmental and Economic Benefits

The utilization of RCB from end-of-life tires provides significant environmental and economic benefits compared to landfilling or incineration. Reclaiming carbon black closes the loop in the material lifecycle and makes productive use of a material that would otherwise be wasted. It also creates a sustainable outlet for the millions of scrap tires generated annually. From an economic standpoint, RCB can offer a lower cost alternative to virgin grades. This makes it an attractive option for various industry applications.

Applications of RCB

Due to its ability to achieve properties matching virgin grades, RCB finds many of the same applications as its virgin counterpart in rubber and plastic products. Some key applications include:

– Tire production: RCB allows for the closed-loop recycling of scrap tires by putting the reclaimed material back into new tires. It can replace up to 30% of virgin carbon black in tire formulations.

– Hoses and belts: As a reinforcing filler, RCB improves the strength and durability of hydraulic hoses, power transmission belts and timing belts.

– Footwear: Replacing portions of virgin carbon black in shoe soles with recovered grades enhances performance properties without compromising quality.

– Plastics and consumer goods: Grades suited for specialty plastics and consumer product applications allow RCB to serve a variety of market sectors.

Ensuring High Quality

While the properties of well-processed RCB can match virgin grades, quality must remain a top priority. Strict controls over the pyrolysis process and characterization of material properties are necessary to guarantee consistency suitable for industrial use. Contamination from other tire components or inconsistent particle structure could impact performance. Ongoing testing ensures RCB continues to meet customers’ exacting quality requirements for a range of demanding applications. With quality assured, it is a sustainable carbon black alternative.

Adoption and Outlook

Use of RCB is gaining increased acceptance globally as its performance capabilities and environmental benefits become more widely recognized. Major tire and rubber product manufacturers have incorporated RCB into various formulations. Continued innovation aims to further optimize the pyrolysis process and expand viable end uses. As recycling infrastructure grows and RCB proves its effectiveness, its market share versus virgin grades is expected to rise significantly this decade and beyond. As a sustainable solution meeting real commercial needs, RCB appears poised for long term success.

In Summary, the properties of recovered carbon black are comparable to those of virgin carbon black, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. From tire manufacturing to industrial rubber products and automotive components, RCB offers performance benefits while reducing reliance on finite fossil fuel resources.


1.Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2.We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it