What Is Carbon Black?

Carbon black is composed of fine particles consisting mainly of carbon.

Various features of carbon black are controlled in production by partially combusting oil or gases.

Carbon black is widely used in various applications from black coloring pigment of newspaper inks to electric conductive agent of high-technology materials.

History of Carbon Black

Soot, which is similar to carbon black, was used for writing letters on papyrus in ancient Egypt and on bamboo strips in ancient China.

Carbon black production became a type of cottage industry about the time when the paper production method was established in the second century. It then became widely used in industries after it was produced with the channel process in 1892 and with the oil furnace method in 1947.

Applications of carbon black

Tires and Industrial Rubber Products

Carbon black has a special interaction with rubber called reinforcement. When rubber and carbon black are intimately mixed together, carbon black enables rubber to become a high performance tire through wet traction enhancement, reduction of wear by abrasion, stiffness improvement, and many other performance advantages. The combination of rubber and carbon black has been coined “the marriage of the century” by experts in the rubber and carbon black industries. Carbon black incorporated rubber makes great products, including rubber hoses, tires, door seals, roofing components and more.


Carbon black in the plastics industry is first and foremost used as a pigment. However, carbon black enhanced plastics also provide improved UV resistance, increased strength, and a deep black pigment with tunable blue or brown undertones. Carbon black has the properties that make everyday plastics products useful, from electrical cables to trash bags to plastic forks.

High Performance Coatings & Adhesives

Carbon black enhances UV protection and durability for coatings used in the automotive marine and aerospace industries. These coatings and adhesives enable products to last longer, have greater reliability, and resist corrosion.

Toners and Printing Ink

Carbon black is an ideal black pigment-based particle for inkjet and toner applications. Carbon black provides a more black lustrous color when compared to iron oxide-based black or dye-based black color. Additionally, the longevity of the deep black color generated by carbon black is superior to competitive products in the industry.

Batteries and Conductive Inks

In addition to the many attractive properties previously listed, carbon black conducts electricity. Carbon black is found in everyday batteries from Nickel Metal Hydride to Lead Acid to rechargeable Lithium Ion. Carbon black provides the appropriate amount of conductivity to the active component of these battery systems. Carbon black is found in many electronic battery-based devices, including those in mobile phones, everyday electronics and disposable Lithium Ion batteries. This same conductivity enables carbon black to be an essential part of conductive inks that can be used for consumer electronics, RFID tags and systems where transition metal based conductive inks cannot be used.

Classification of carbon black by manufacturing process

Furnace Black Process

This method forms carbon black by blowing petroleum oil or coal oil as raw material (feedstock oil) into high-temperature gases to combust them partially. This method is suitable for mass production due to its high yield, and allows wide control over its properties such as particle size or structure. This is currently the most common method used for manufacturing carbon black for various applications from rubber reinforcement to coloring.

Channel Process

This method forms carbon black by bringing partially combusted fuel, which is generated with natural gas as raw material, into contact with channel steel (H-shaped steel) and then collecting the carbon black which results.

There are yield and environment issues around this method, and therefore has lost the leading role as the mass production process to the furnace process. This method, however, provides carbon black with many functional groups on the surface, being used in some painting applications.

Acetylene Black Process

Lampblack Process

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