CLEVELAND—Orion Engineered Carbons L.L.C. has introduced Ecorax S 204 and S 206, two new rubber carbon blacks designed to reduce rolling resistance and increase fuel efficiency in truck tire carcass compounds.
Lin Bradley, Orion's technical marketing manager for rubber, said at the recent International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland that the S 204 grade is used for body compounds. It allows tire makers to develop low rolling resistance in sidewalls and under-tread applications.
The compound has a high structure, Bradley said, minimizes heat buildup and can be used to replace more commonly used sidewall carbon blacks like N 330 to give makers a lower overall rolling resistance without sacrificing other properties.
The S 206 grade is the same particle size as S 204, but has a low structure. He said it's designed to go into inner liner compounders and replace N 660. It gives an advantage in lower heat buildup and is easier to get a high quality dispersion.
Both N 330 and N 660 are standard ASTM grades.
“As the regulations in Europe for rolling resistance and (carbon dioxide) generation have tightened, it's become more and more difficult to meet the requirements,” Bradley said. “We've developed a package of grades that allow tire designers to optimize rolling resistance properties of the tire overall, not just the tread. It seems like in the carbon black industry, we've always been focused on improving the rolling resistance of treads. These two carbon blacks focus on the carcass of the tire.”
The firm produces both grades in Europe and is trying to gauge interest in the U.S. to see if it would justify adding the capability in the region. The products have been commercialized with a development partner for more than a year, but Bradley said the firm is starting to target the U.S. market.
“If you look at Europe, the benchmark is CO2 generation,” he said. “We have to walk our way through and give estimates roughly of what reductions might be from a particular grade. In the U.S. it's a little bit different. They look at reductions in fuel consumption overall as a percentage as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas production.”
Orion also introduced the latest additions to its Sable line of clean carbon blacks for extrusion and high quality molding applications. Sable 6600, 7700 and 7740 are differentiated by surface area and structure level and target the belt, hose and molded goods markets. Bradley said these compounds are ideal for any industry that requires a good clean surface and low scrap rates.
“It's existed in our portfolio for some time for plastics applications,” Bradley said of Sable 7700. “We're leveraging the capabilities we've developed over the years for specialty products into the rubber market. What we've seen is that the price of entry into the belt and hose markets is clean grades. We've had these clean grades quite some time, but we haven't been promoting them quite so heavily in rubber.”
The compounds are produced at the firm's facility in Border, Texas. Bradley said they are readily available.
“We have a long manufacturing history, a lot of know-how and a very well developed process for producing the quality to meet the performance requirements,” Bradley said. “This is really nothing new to Orion as a company, but it's new that we're promoting it so heavily to the rubber market.”