By Chris Twigg :

Black Bear’s patented innovative technology facilitates harvesting of high-quality carbon black from end-of-life tyres in a clean, sustainable way that adds upcycled value

Chris Twigg, CTO Black Bear Carbon

Every year circa 2.4 billion tyres are produced on a global scale. With close to 1 billion tyres reaching the end of their life annually, millions of tonnes of tyres enter the waste stream.
In many places around the world, these waste tyres are landfilled, dumped or incinerated.
These methods do pose not only a major environmental concern but also a serious health risk. For example, still standing water in landfilled tyres provide ideal breeding grounds for Malaria mosquitos.
Besides this, 4.5 million tonnes of valuable carbon black, which could have been re-used, is hidden inside these tyres.

Current method highly polluting

Conventionally, carbon black is most notably produced by the partial combustion of crude oil, referred to as ‘furnace’ carbon blacks. This process makes up approximately 95% of the industry and requires around 2-2.5 litres of oil to create 1 kg of carbon black.
Therefore, current production of carbon black is highly polluting, emitting over 35 million tonnes of CO2 per year and requiring 175 million barrels of oil, to fulfill the global demand for carbon black of ±14 million tonnes per year. The bulk of this carbon black is consumed in the tyre industry.

Black Bear’s solution

Black Bear Carbon Black Team

Carbon black, when successfully retrieved from waste tyres, may be re-used as an equally acceptable replacement for virgin furnace carbon blacks. Applying this circular business model has great advantages for companies active in tyre processing and rubber manufacturing by reducing waste processing costs, use of and expenditure on resources and by drastically reducing negative environmental impacts.
Black Bear brings the circular economy to tyres and has developed an innovative technology to extract high-quality carbon black from waste tyres, allowing carbon black users to move away from the ‘polluting’ carbon black that is currently produced from crude oil.
Black Bear Carbon produces high-quality carbon blacks through an innovative pyrolysis process using end-of-life tyres as feedstock.
Black Bear’s circular solution solves the issues posed by the more than 1 billion tyres that come to the end of their life each year and has the potential to unlock a huge positive environmental impact. Each tonne of carbon black produced by Black Bear saves 2.5 tonnes of oil and 5 tonnes of CO2. For each installation, that’s more CO2 than 1 million trees can consume.
Moreover, there are enough waste tyres in the world to build over 800 installations.

Applications

BBC grades, BBC TR3O and BBC TR30S, have been validated as versatile replacements for various furnace carbon black grades used in tyres, as well as technical rubber applications.
In technical rubber, already successful applications include:
• AVS and engine mounts: Providing unique properties to enhance the durability and dynamic properties. The low structure imparts comparable or better compression set values at equal cross-link density when compared to N550, N330 and N326.
Introducing BBC TR30 will give better mechanical properties as well as enhanced dynamic properties such as flex fatigue, Payne effect and tan delta which will drastically improve compared to N550/772. Also, low hysteresis will reduce heat build-up, and the presence of silica will substantially improve metal bonding compared to N772.
• For extrusions, BBC TR30 can improve mechanical properties, flex fatigue, compression set and reduce costs by taking advantage of higher loading possibilities.
• In belt compounds the grades provide excellent tensile strength, high resistance to abrasion, cut and tear. At the same time, dynamic properties such as flex fatigue, Payne effect and rolling resistance will drastically improve. Low hysteresis will reduce heat build-up in the skim. Overall reduced hysteresis will lower the total energy input for the conveyor installation.
• High reinforcing blacks are used for the cover compounds to ensure excellent wear resistance. The downside of this kind of blacks is their poor dynamic performances. Black Bear’s carbon blacks uniquely combine good mechanical and dynamic properties
• Semi and high reinforcing blacks are used for hose compounds to ensure and optimise the various performance requirements described above. This provides various opportunities for Black Bear grades with the objective of adding technical value.
• High-performance compound ingredient for insulating tapes, EH rated safety shoes, cables and moulded rubber goods that come into contact with magnesium and aluminium, to prevent corrosion problems.
• BBC TR30 offers a unique set of properties enhancing the durability and performance of O-rings, sealing and gaskets. Being of low structure impart comparable or better compression set values at equal cross-link density when compared to N550, N330 and N326. The inherently good compression set performance further provides the opportunity to replace N990 or N772 but at reduced loadings.
• BBC TR30 provides unique properties to enhance the reliability, durability and environmental performance of transmission belts. Replacement of ASTM N200/300 by BBC TR30 will improve dynamic reinforcement properties. Replacing N550/N772 will give better mechanical properties as well as enhanced dynamic performance. Higher building tack was observed in an SBR bonding application compound which will benefit inter-ply adhesion.