Orion S.A. (NYSE: OEC) is a global specialty chemicals company that makes carbon black, a solid form of carbon produced as powder or pellets – an essential material in everyday products.

Carbon Black is a vital ingredient in a wide variety of applications, including tires, mechanical rubber goods, coatings, printing ink, toner, batteries, textiles, plastic pipes and high-voltage cables.

Orion has innovation centers on three continents and produces carbon black at 15 plants worldwide, offering the most diverse variety of production processes in the industry.

The company’s corporate lineage can be traced back more than 160 years to Germany, where it still operates the world’s longest-running carbon black facility.

Orion is a leading innovator, applying a deep understanding of customers’ needs to deliver sustainable solutions.

Our core values are:

Accountability: We put safety first, uphold the highest standards of integrity and commit ourselves to continuous improvement.

Innovation: We deliver solutions for our customers and strive to sustain the planet for future generations.

Enduring relationships: We make trust and respect the foundation of our relationships.

A brief history of carbon black

For centuries, humans have been using carbon black for a variety of purposes.

In ancient China and Egypt, carbon black was made by allowing a flame — usually from an oil lamp — come in contact with a cooled surface, causing soot to accumulate. The black matter would be scraped off and collected as a powder, which would be used as a black pigment for writing or painting.

Carbon black is still widely used by producers of coatings, printing ink and toner because it provides the rich shades of black.

The Romans liked to use black to decorate walls and devised a method of creating soot with pine resin, fired in a brick-lined furnace with a special chamber that captured the carbon black. As pine resin became a popular feedstock — or raw material — for making carbon black, the Black Forest region in Germany became the epicenter of the industry.

During the Industrial Revolution, coal tar became available in large quantities and was used to make carbon black.

Shortly after the turn of the 19th century, the rubber industry discovered by accident that carbon black has reinforcing properties and that tires containing the material would last longer and their rolling resistance would be reduced.

The material also adds UV protection to the dashboard in your car and other products exposed to the damaging effects of the sun. And it conducts electricity in lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles and high-voltage cables for wind and solar farms.

From a sustainability viewpoint, one of the most notable aspects of carbon black is that the raw materials used to make it — such as heavy oil or acetylene gas — are byproducts of other production processes. Instead of disposing of the material by burning it, Orion uses it to create high-value material for applications such as lithium-ion batteries or high-voltage cable that are vital to the shift toward electrification.