Evaluation of sustainable bituminous coal in elastomer applications

by Erick Sharp, Miles Dearth, Doug Foster, Jaden Slovensky – ACE Products & Consulting

Austin Black 325 is a finely divided (below 325 mesh) powder produced from high carbon content, low volatility, sustainable bituminous coal. It has different properties compared to carbon black, including a lower specific gravity of 1.30 versus 1.80, a platy ground structure versus the reinforcing morphology of carbon black (figures 1 and 2), and a lower surface area in comparison to carbon black. Beyond its carbon composition, it is more similar in structure to platy fillers like clay and talc. The specific gravity comparison to other platy minerals (1.30 versus 2.50) provides economical and efficiency gains.

Austin Black ground coal was first used in the 1800s by the Austin Powder Company, an early explosives manufacturer founded in Akron OH, in 1833. Austin Black 325 began to be used as an inexpensive filler in rubber as the automotive industry emerged near the turn of the 20th century. Its use is catalogued in the book Crude Rubber and Compounding Ingredients, by Henry Pearson (1899). The trademark Austin Black was first registered in 1962 by the Slab Fork Coal Company, and by its successor company, Coal Fillers Inc., in 2006. As thermal coal use in power generation declines, it remains one of the cheapest sources of carbon; and the U.S. has the world’s largest and cheapest reserves. Sustainable bituminous coal is being utilized for advanced materials in several sectors, including metals, cement, asphalt, roof tiles, lithium ion batteries, chemicals and life sciences.

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