Research and development

When our ancestors painted on cave walls, they used carbon from fires to share stories. Sharing that fire lit the way for humanity to migrate and discover new frontiers. Today, we’re constantly searching for a deeper understanding of our products and their applications so that we can 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, progress new opportunities for carbon black applications, and closely assess our product sustainability – including developing more sustainable forms of carbon black.

Leading through innovation

It’s been over 75 years since our historic installation of one of the world’s first industrial electron microscopes – but it’s an invention that keeps innovating. Decades later, our customers say that our carbon black identification technology (CB ID) is still the best in the industry, and we gladly share our process with them. 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 in Taloja (Maharashtra, India) and Marietta (Georgia, USA). They are supported by two regional satellite laboratories in Korea and Brazil.

Our R&D centers are dedicated to five areas of expertise:

  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Analytical Services and Quality
  • Product Development
  • Process Innovation
  • Material Innovation

Taloja (Maharashtra, India) R&D center

Marietta (Georgia, USA) R&D center

Our R&D centers employ more than 50 leading scientists and technological experts in material science, analytical chemistry, nanocomposites, physics and process engineering. They have access to two electron microscopes across our R&D facilities around the world. The Product Technology group works with Technical Service teams throughout the world and engages daily with customers to ensure their needs are understood and met. Part of their work is to develop new grades of carbon black 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.

Leading on product safety through innovation and collaboration

Carbon black plays an important role in many food and human contact applications and product safety is a vital part of the process. One of the key aspects is to provide robust scientific evidence that finished articles that contain carbon black do not release carcinogenic compounds related to poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

There are many methods for testing for impurities in carbon black, but only one approach for testing for PAH with the sensitivity and selectivity needed. Birla Carbon has led the way in developing better standards for PAH measurement. Rafael Vargas is our expert in gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the analytical techniques used in quantifying trace levels of PAH in carbon black. He leads the ASTM D24.66 Technical Committee dealing with the health, safety and environment (HSE) aspects for the D24 Committee on Carbon Black, and holds jurisdiction for developing HSE standards for carbon black.

Through this open committee, we have led the development of a series of internationally recognized test methods specific to carbon black and validated using scientific processes. It’s an example of how we share the strength by using our experts and research capabilities to support the industry and customers in developing better test standards and safer products to benefit society.

  • Innovation

Did you know?

  • There are over one trillion aggregates in one gram of carbon black.
  • If laid out end to end along their longest dimensions, the aggregates in one gram of carbon black would more than encircle the Earth at its equator!
  • There are over 65,000 m2 of carbon black surface area in a typical passenger tire tread.
  • In terms of size ratio, the difference between a primary particle of carbon black and a soccer ball (football) is about the same as a soccer ball and the moon!

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.

3.7% profit reinvested in research and development in FY2018.

The three drivers of our technology roadmap