Where is the future of rCB?

This year might be a key year for the rCB (tyre pyrolysis recycled carbon black) industry, despite challenging market conditions for carbon black due to low oil feedstock costs. By now, key players of the industry have secured approvals with strategic prospects and while some are in the funding and construction stage, others are finding synergies in a merger. Some companies yet are considering the step from selling energy, pyrolysis oil or gas to developing a carbon black offer.

What do rCB products look like? As reported from various industry experts, most current rCB products fall into the triangle between N660-N330-N326, representing a crossbreed of the different carbon black products in tyres, while performing like N7xx in rubber applications. With current processes, the high structure of N550, the largest market volume ASTM category, cannot yet be achieved.

A fundamental strategic question is whether the future of rCB will be in bleeding-in small quantities (which conventional carbon black manufacturers do anyway in the form of recycling) and in blending (which some major tyre customers and distributors do in order to optimise between cost and consistency) or whether it is in tailored products (which would require tight(er) raw material and process control as well as bespoke upgrading processes).

In the current economical and legislational climate, the first scenario is probably a more realistic commercial entry. However, I think there are a lot of exiting developments ahead in form of application tailored rCB products which we might see in the coming years in both rubber and non-rubber applications.

What do you think?

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