TORONTO—Raw material suppliers face various challenges in providing tire makers with the quality and quantity of materials they need. But they are more than prepared to meet those challenges.
This was the message representatives from three raw materials sectors—carbon black, natural rubber and synthetic rubber—had for attendees at "Driving to the Future," the 2019 Tire & Rubber Summit sponsored by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.
The carbon black industry now is almost unrecognizable from the time carbon black was first invented in 1891, according to Robert Rist, regional director, product management, reinforcement materials at Cabot Corp.
"The early process was very dangerous, and not very sustainable," Rist said. However, both safety and quality grew exponentially, especially after carbon black was first added to tires in 1912. That addition, Rist said, increased tire life by 10,000 miles.
Now, there are more than 40 grades of carbon black, each offering different levels of performance to tire applications, according to Rist.
Better treadwear, lower rolling resistance, improved processing, lower capital expenditures, reduced waste and a lower carbon dioxide footprint are only some of the advantages carbon black offers to tire makers, he said.
However, environmental regulations, impacts on feedstocks and supply/demand dynamics are all putting pressure on carbon black manufacturers, he said.
Consent decrees for environmental cleanup between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and carbon black manufacturers have diverted funds from industry expansion, according to Rist.
Canada's carbon dioxide emissions tax program under the Paris Accord also will affect carbon black makers, as well as Ontario's pending limits on sulfur dioxide emissions, he said.