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The social value of carbon black

Carbon black has been part of human life for centuries. It is a fine, black powder essentially composed of elemental carbon, a highly engineered microscopic material contained in hundreds of thousands of our most valued everyday products.

From cars to computers, plumbing to agriculture and banknotes to shoes, carbon black makes our lives better. It helps us use resources more efficiently, to travel safely, to communicate and to access clean water for drinking and irrigation.

What is carbon black?

Watch our video to see how carbon black enables our everyday lives.

Carbon black is virtually pure, elemental carbon in the form of colloidal particles, which are microscopic and arranged in a grape-like form. Its physical appearance is that of a black, finely divided pellet or powder – individual particles of carbon black are invisible to the human eye. Carbon black is entirely different from, and should not be confused with, black carbon, more commonly known as soot.

The size of the particles and the way they are aggregated determine the specific properties of the carbon black and how it can be used. For example, a large particle-sized “soft” carbon black grade will contribute to the elasticity of tire sidewalls, while a small particle-sized “hard” carbon black grade is essential to ensure the durability of a tire’s tread.

What are its uses?

Carbon black enables the everyday. It brings many properties and qualities to countless finished products and articles made from rubber or plastics, as well as providing color and protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays in paint, ink and coatings.

Did you know?

Vehicle tires are approximately 25% carbon black. You would not be able to drive further than 8,000 km on a single set of tires without it.

Any water facility containing piping, including those for drinking and washing, contains carbon black – as do all power cables.

Over 13 million tonnes of carbon black are produced worldwide annually – some 70% of which goes into tires.

How we are supporting the SDGs

SDG 17

Partnerships for the goals

Carbon black is present in nearly every area of everyday life, so we partner with a range of stakeholders, particularly our customers, to make products safer and more durable.

SDG 2

Zero hunger

In its use in farming, including improved irrigation, carbon black facilitates more efficient agriculture.

SDG 8

Decent work and economic growth

Carbon black ensures greater resource efficiency, which in turn promotes economic growth.

SDG 9

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Our product supports the development of quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, and promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization.

SDG 10

Reduced inequalities

Carbon black plays an important role in technology, giving more people greater access to transport and communication. It also ensures that technologies containing it last longer and are safer.

SDG 11

Sustainable cities and communities

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

SDG 12

Responsible consumption and production

Carbon black facilitates responsible consumption and production through increasing the resource efficiency of products.

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