The use of Carbon Black as black pigment for paints and inks goes back to the early civilizations of mankind. With the invention of the book printing in the fifteenth century, which developed to be the most important way of communicating information until recently, the demand for strong black pigment has increased steadily. The traditional Carbon Black initially used for these coloring purposes was Lamp Black. In the first manufacturing processes of Lamp Black, wood was burnt smoldering under low air supply, and the smoke passed into a cone-like soot chamber where the Carbon Black settled on the walls of metal, linen, or wool. The charred wood was sold as charcoal.
In the early 1900s, the Lamp Black producer Binney & Smith, later well known for their crayon products, began selling their Carbon Black chemicals to Goodrich Tire Company, initially as a coloring agent to change the white rubber tires into black. By this coincidence, it was found that the use of Carbon Black in rubber manufacturing significantly increased certain desirable qualities for rubber meant to be turned into tires. It was in 1904 in England when Sidney Charles Mote and a team of experimenters discovered the reinforcing effect that Carbon Black imparts to rubber, and some years later, this beneficial effect became common knowledge and general practice in tire tread compounding.
In addition to the reinforcement, the resistance of Carbon Black to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and its function as ozone scavenger stabilizes the tire rubber toward UV light as well as oxidation and prevents the rubber tire from fissuring and cracking. Adding Carbon Black avoids electrostatic charging and also helps to conduct heat away from certain hot spots on the tire, specifically, in the tread and belt areas, which can get particularly hot at times while driving. This reduces thermal damage on the tire, which further extends its lifespan. The first larger industrial manufacturing plants for tire blacks were Channel Black processes using at a very low Carbon Black yield the natural gas which occurred in oil production as a by-product.
Since the 1950th the Channel Black process has continuously been replaced by the Furnace Black process. Today the Channel Black process is extinct and almost every single Carbon Black used in today’s tires is produced by the Furnace Black process. Modern tires compose several different rubber compounds each containing special elastomers and also special Carbon Black grades to enable the needed performance.