Carbon black pigments are used in formulations to help absorb UV light and impart durability to a coating. They are used in a wide variety of applications including automotive, decorative and industrial coatings.
“Carbon blacks are used for many reasons in coatings,” said Josh Prenetal global segment manager for coatings at Cabot Corp. “The most common use is for pigmentation, which can be split into masstone and tinting. In masstone applications, the end product is a jet black coating. Black automotive basecoats are a good example here. For all other non-black applications, carbon black is used as a tinting aid. Even white paints often have a very, very small amount of carbon black in them to reduce the brightness.
“Carbon black is also added to coatings to make them more conductive,” said Preneta. “In plastic primers applied to automotive bumpers, the function of the carbon black is to make the coating slightly conductive, so that subsequent layers of coating can be deposited via electrodeposition. Carbon black also helps with the dissipation of static in the concrete floor coatings applied to the floors of electronics fabrication facilities. Carbon black is also used for its inherent opacity. It is added to the backside of the coverglass in touch-screen devices to black light. Inside the display, it prevents light from ‘bleeding’ from one pixel to the next, effectively enabling high resolution displays.”
Demand for carbon black pigments has been flat for the past year with some slight gains expected.
“Small gains or returning business has kept our business slightly better than 2011,” said John Erbeck, product line manager, inkjet products, energy curable dispersions, carbon black dispersions at Emerald Materials. “We believe this trend will continue into 2013. Offering high quality products to the market is key to our success. We offer highly dispersed products that allow our customers the formulating latitudes needed to be competitive.”
According to Erbeck, because use of carbon black pigments in coatings is a relatively small segment, there are availability and supply issues. “The coatings and graphic arts markets remain a minor user when compared to rubbers markets and this constricts the availability of carbon to our markets and in some cases allocations of supply,” Erbeck said. “Emerald Performance Materials has been well situated with our carbon supply and have not seen any major issues in our supply due to our planning and forward thinking procurement teams working hand in had with our sales group. The major markets for Emerald Performance Materials remain the coatings and graphic arts industries.”
Raw material prices are also another key issue for carbon black manufacturers. “Changes in oil prices have been a fact of life,” said Erbeck. “In this highly competitive carbon dispersions product line, we must find ways to recover the cost increases. To what extent we can offset increases through productivity improvements, raw material substitution and end-performance enhancements, that is always a given. Would these potentially ‘move the need’ for us and our customers? We continually dialogue with our customers regarding expected changes in the market and continuing to provide them high quality products to meet their needs.”
Titanium dioxide is used as a safe, non-toxic ingredient in paints, coatings, plastics and paper and is a very efficient way of providing opacity and UV protection. “Titanium dioxide absorbs UV radiation, thereby protecting and extending a product’s lifetime. It delivers efficient whiteness and brightness for excellent hiding power,” said BC Chong, president of DuPont Titanium Technologies.
Like carbon black, demand for titanium dioxide was down this year. “The titanium dioxide market demand is down this year, but we expect a recovery in 2013 and we remain confident in our titanium dioxide outlook for the longer term,” said Chong. “Titanium dioxide demand is expected to grow with GDP and DuPont, the most innovative titanium dioxide company, will benefit from this growth. In addition, our significant new capacity expansion will allow us to grow with our customers.”
According to Frank Lavieri, executive vice president and general manager at Lansco Colors, the demand for white pigments has grown substantially over the last year such that it has outstripped supply for a time. “Supply and demand has been more balanced now but during the previous year Lansco Colors’ sales of white pigments increased substantially,” he said. “We are finding more and more customers are being careful to use the best value titanium dioxide for each application, whereas in the past they may have been more inclined to use only one higher performance grade. The best value grade is the one which meets all of the requirements for the application at the lowest cost and, importantly, is not over engineered.”
Both carbon black and white pigment manufacturers have launched a number of new products. For the coatings market Emerald Hitlon Davis offers zero VOC, formaldehyde-free, APE-free – Verdis dispersion products.
“This is a full line of colorants including carbon black dispersion that offers high quality colors for in-plant tinting,” said Erbeck. “Emerald also offers a new line energy cure colorants, called Lucida Colors. Lucida Colors ECF is a full line of high performance pigment and trans-oxide color products to meet the needs in the emerging energy cure coatings market. Emerald Hilton Davis also offers a wide range of specialty water-based black dispersions.”
Cabot recently launched Emperor 1800, a high color carbon black designed for ease of dispersion in water-based systems. “The product is designed to be used in automotive and other high-end applications,” said Preneta. “Cabot also has a complete line of resistive carbon blacks use in display applications, the TPK series of carbon blacks. These materials enable higher resolution displays and next generation touch panel architectures. Cabot also has a number of products coming later in 2012.”
DuPont Titanium Technologies has been delivering Ti-Pure products to the coatings industry for more than 80 years.
“Our offering developments begins with the needs of the world’s leading coatings customers,” said Chong. “Our research in titanium dioxide is focused on delivering leading opacity solutions and maximizing our customers’ cost efficiency to ensure performance and competitiveness in the markets they serve.”
DuPont Titanium Technologies has also announced a global expansion that will add 350,000 metric tons of capacity at its Altamira, Mexico site and several other site of its sites around the world. “The new line at the Altamire site is scheduled for completion by 2015,” added Chong. “This expansion effort is an integral piece of the business’ global strategy to help customers grow.”
German-based TiO2 producer Sachtleben Chemie recently took over crenox, another German TiO2 producer. It was placed in administration three years ago when Tronox, its U.S.-based parent, filed for Chapter 11bankruptcy protection.
Sachtleben, a joint venture between Rockwood Holdings based in the U.S. and Kemira of Finland, is primarily a speciality TiO2 producer with around 240,000 metric tons of annual capacity at two plants in Duisburg, Germany, and Pori, Finland. crenox has a 107,000 tons a year plant at Krefeld so its acquisition will considerably strengthen Sachtleben’s position in the European TiO2 market, in which the other main players are DuPont, Cristal, Huntsman, and Kronos.
The acquisition could result in a further decrease in production capacity available for commodity-priced TiO2 for coatings at a time when supply has not been keeping up with demand. Consequently prices for the pigment have risen by around 50 percent since early last year with analysts predicting further rises in the second half of 2012.
TiO2 capacity in Europe has been under pressure since a steep drop in demand in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008 led to the closure of some uneconomic plants in the region. Producers of the pigment have reported that they have been sold out over the last two years.
PPG signs agreement for titanium dioxide technology with a China-based company
PPG Industries has signed a memorandum of understanding with Henan Billions Chemicals Co., Ltd. by which PPG will license certain chloride-based technologies to Billions for use at Billions' titanium dioxide (TiO2) refinement facilities in China. In addition, PPG has signed a long-term purchase agreement for titanium dioxide with Billions. PPG intends to use the chloride-based TiO2 manufactured by Billions for various end-use applications, including paints and other coatings. The TiO2 also would be available for sale to third parties. PPG previously manufactured titanium dioxide using the chloride process at its chemicals facility in Natrium, W. Va., and sold titanium dioxide pigment for coatings and other end-use applications. Titanium dioxide is a raw material widely used in the paint and coatings industry as a pigment to provide hiding, durability and whiteness characteristics.