Research and development

We invest in research and development to maintain leadership in our industry and build for the future through innovative and state-of-the-art processes. Our development and use of the best available technology enables us to improve our product, identify new opportunities for carbon black applications and closely assess our product sustainability attributes, including developing more sustainable forms of carbon black.

Leading through innovation

Our success is built on our product. We continuously investigate and develop new approaches to how we make carbon black and improve its performance. To ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of our industry, we depend on leading scientists, dedicated to taking us forward.

We provide these scientists with state-of-the-art research facilities. Our two principal Research and Development (R&D) centers are located in Taloja (Maharashtra, India) and Marietta (Georgia, USA). These are supported by two regional satellite laboratories in Korea and Brazil. Our R&D centers are divided into five sub-laboratories, dedicated to the following activities:

  • Analytical services and oil analysis
  • Material analysis
  • Microscopy
  • Rubber applications
  • Specialty applications

Taloja (Maharashtra, India) R&D centre

Marietta (Georgia, USA) R&D centre

Our R&D centers employ more than 50 leading scientists and technological experts in material science, analytical chemistry, nanocomposites, physics, and process engineering. Our Product Technology group works with our Technical Service teams throughout the world, and engages daily with our customers to ensure their needs are understood and met. Part of our work is the development of new grades to improve the performance of our customers’ products. We also propose new carbon black products that are less energy demanding during the incorporation phase in rubber, plastic, ink or paint formulations.

When designing new products, we meet with partners to better understand their expectations. For instance, rolling resistance is a key focus for our tire customers. Our objective is to develop and commercialize new carbon black grades to further lower the rolling resistance for the next generation of tires. These tires will consume less energy in vehicle propulsion, resulting in greater fuel economy, thus emitting less CO2.

Celebrating pioneering technology

Birla Carbon has long been committed to innovation. In FY2017, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of our installation of the first industrial electron microscope. An electron microscope uses a beam of accelerated electrons to reveal the structure of minute objects. As carbon black is tiny even in its aggregated form, these microscopes are essential for examining our product in detail. Electron microscopes have given us a real insight into the structural properties of our product, ensuring that our carbon black is better characterized and understood.

Before the microscopes existed, carbon black morphology was unknown – carbon black was marketed as ‘magic smoke’. The first electron microscope was invented in Germany in 1931 and perfected by Siemens in 1938 – but, as local political conditions prevented any exports from Germany, US scientists working for Columbian Carbon built the microscopes by hand in 1941. In the intervening years, our R&D teams have used 15 generations of electron microscopes, which we use to characterize and help develop unique grades of carbon black. We estimate that we have captured well over 1 million micrographs in that time span.

Birla Carbon has taken a proactive approach to carbon stewardship, supported by our R&D team. Our approach is driven by our Sustainable Operational Excellence (SOE) strategy, which influences all aspects of our business. Our pioneering use of innovative technology, including electron microscopes, means that SOE is a reality.

“We are committed to driving innovations that fulfil the needs of the customers and communities. We have invested in world-class R&D centers that focus on continual enhancement of carbon black technology by combining process modelling, microscopy and product innovation. Birla Carbon will continue to invest in technology to ensure we are meeting the challenging needs of our customers in the most sustainable way.”

Dale Clark, Chief Technology Officer

  • Innovation

Did you know?

  • Birla Carbon pioneered the microscopic characterization of carbon black over 70 years ago
  • Traceable carbon black grades are used in fiduciary inks for bank notes
  • Carbon black adds over 6,000 m2 of surface area to reinforce the tread of your tire, making it safe and durable.

Directing our technology

Our Technology Roadmap is designed to coordinate and reinforce our approach to technology and product development by focusing on three main drivers – growth, sustainability and cost and quality.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Our aim is to support and facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries with carbon black, and support the development of local technology, research and innovation. We also play our part by increasing efficient resources use, enabling the adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and by encouraging innovation and enhancing research.

Sustainable cities and communities

Carbon black is crucial in the development of safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems, particularly in terms of its role in tire safety, durability and improved rolling resistance.

Partnerships for the goals

We help achieve the goals by working closely with our stakeholders, particularly our customers.

4.8% profit reinvested in research and development in FY2017

The three drivers of our technology roadmap