Delft, The Netherlands – Dutch carbon material startup CarbonX has reached a supply agreement with a top-20 global tire maker for the supply of its ‘sustainable’ filler materials for the next three years.
The company has inked a framework agreement to supply a minimum of 200 tonnes of CarbonX to the manufacturer over a three-year period, to help it boost the performance and sustainability of tires, CEO Rutger Van Raalten told ERJ.
The 200-tonne supply can translate into roughly to 800,000 passenger car units of tire, said Van Raalten adding that first commercial products are to hit the market in 2022.
The material, which can fully replace carbon black in certain formulations and partially replace silica, has a “novel structure” composed of nano-sized carbon filaments that are chemically connected to form “a 3D micron-sized network.”
This structure makes it possible to combine properties in new ways, thereby unlocking new design possibilities which can deliver high performance and greater sustainability, said Van Raalten.
For instance, replacing 5 phr N375 and 15 phr SiO with CarbonX X5 in passenger car tire tread formulations can deliver up to 13% higher rolling resistance, 21% higher abrasion resistance and 7% higher grip, according to the company.
Produced in five grades, CarbonX is manufactured in carbon black plants and is classified as a carbon black in terms of substance ID.
“So, when it comes to safety and handling, carbon black regulations apply,” said Van Raalten.
However, because of its “distinct structure”, the material behaves differently than carbon black.
For instance, it has narrower particle size distribution, which can create greater homogeneity, and the crystallites in CarbonX give it better conductivity and reinforcement.
The material is also claimed to offer ‘substantial improvements’ in processability as it offers greater aggregate strength, and thereby lower viscosity and shear sensitivity.
Founded in 2014 in Delft, CarbonX has now scaled up to full-commercial production of 20 kilotonnes per annum by partnering with carbon black manufacturers.
“Our main supply currently comes from China, but we are already in the process of setting up regional production partnerships,” Van Raalten added.