Carbon Footprint of carbon black

Carbon Footprint of carbon black

The carbon footprint of carbon black is not as easy to specify as you might think. Let us look at the details!

Manufacturers of alternative rubber fillers like to claim a benefit of CO2 avoidance over furnace carbon blacks. Buyers of rubber fillers also start to select products by carbon footprint. Yet, even the benchmark carbon footprint of furnace carbon black is not as easy to specify as you might think.


Furnace carbon blacks

The 2006 IPCC 2006 “Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories” quote emissions of 2,62 t CO2e / ton of furnace carbon black in scope 1 (direct emissions from production). This data was maintained in the 2019 refinement report.

However, when looking at CO2e emissions by carbon black grade depending on carbon black feedstock (FCC, CTD and SCR) and process technology (typical and best available), we get a wide range of emissions between < 0,9 … 2,8 t CO2e / ton of furnace carbon black in scope 1.


Alternative carbon blacks

Biobased furnace carbon blacks (e.g. Orion Engineered Carbons “Ecorax Nature”) only score in scope 3 (Upstream, downstream emissions from supply chain). They have a negative carbon footprint in score 3 due to carbon capture. In scope 1 and 2 (purchase of electricity / energy), they have a similar or higher carbon footprint as their fossil siblings (it is still the same furnace process).

Very few recovered carbon black manufacturers have solid CO2e emission data for comparison to furnace carbon blacks. Manufacturers of biobased lignin fillers (e.g. UPM – The Biofore Company) also have not yet published their carbon footprint data. One reason for that is that industrial facilities are not operating yet and measured data is missing.

And our eyes are also on US based Monolith, who is expected to soon publish more detailed GHG emission data for its methane pyrolysis carbon blacks.


Carbon neutrality vs net zero carbon footprint

These are are two very different objectives. Carbon neutrality can be achieved via credits. A net zero carbon footprint can only be achieved via avoidance.



What is the take-away of this post? We are advocating for more transparency and more precise data on CO2e emission comparisons.

This means, for a like-for-like comparison of filler material emissions, we need actual grade level based data from an industrial system, the same selection of system boundaries and the specification of the scope (1,2 or 3).

Do you want to know more about the carbon Footprint of carbon black? Let’s talk!


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