Plasma carbon black, a new material? For several years already, the Plasma process for carbon black production has been promoted and considered as a threat to the furnace black production.

After a brief introduction to the fundamental differences between a partial combustion process and plasma process, plasma blacks have been compared with partial combustion blacks. The plasma blacks have not been optimised but are more a selection of materials based on feedstock and operating conditions. Physico-chemical properties as well as SEM and high resolution TEM micrographs illustrate differences and similarities. Surface heterogeneity of those carbon blacks has been characterised by static gas adsorption. This way the more graphitic nature of the selection of plasma blacks could be demonstrated, explaining the specific behaviour of those blacks in rubber compounds.

The specificity of the carbon blacks investigated is not only in the production technique, namely plasma torch, but also in the variety of the row materials used, demonstrating the flexibility of the process. Methane, ethylene, pyrolysis fuel oil and even a renewable vegetable oil have been used.

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