News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

May 14, 2009

Continental Carbon Adds Conductive Blacks, Carbon Nanotubes to its Product Line

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 10:19 pm

Continental Carbon Co. has announced on its website that it is has expanded its product line beyond rubber blacks to include both conductive carbon black and carbon nanotubes (CNTs). According to the site, “carbon nanotubes and conductive carbon blacks represent the next generation of raw materials and are used across a wide range of industries ranging from electro-static thermal dissipation and shielding to composite material constructions.”

Notch understands that the carbon nanotube materials are currently being produced in lab quantities. When commercial-scale production is required, the materials most likely will be produced at Concarb’s Sunray, Texas plant, which has an idle pilot plant that would be modified to nanotube production.

Concarb’s position in carbon nanotubes is based on both internally developed technology as well as a recently announced partnership with a CNT company called Unidym, Inc. On May 12, 2009, Arrowhead Research Corporation, the parent company of Unidym, announced that it had entered into a partnership whereby Concarb will take over Unidym’s bulk CNT materials business. Under the agreement, Concarb will form a new subsidiary, Continental Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. (CCNI), that will exclusively supply Unidym with proprietary electronics-grade CNTs for its core markets and sell high quality CNTs directly into other, non-competing markets.

The transfer of assets will take place in two steps: the first involves the transfer of certain assets related to the materials business, including manufacturing equipment and select inventory; and the second will include the transfer of certain intellectual property and third party agreements necessary for the materials business as well as a supply agreement for CCNI to provide proprietary CNTs to Unidym.

According to the agreement, Unidym will continue to serve the electronics industry, including the touch-screen and LCD markets and, over the longer term, markets such as solar energy and printable electronics. Mark Tilley, CEO of Unidym, stated, “Continental Carbon’s global manufacturing operations and expertise will be an integral component of our go-to-market strategy. We expect that demand from the touch panel, LCD and solar markets will require a significant ramp-up of CNT capacity in the coming years.”

In the press release, Kim Pan, President of Continental Carbon, was quoted as saying, “We are pleased to join forces with Unidym and look forward to expanding the market for CNTs. We will work exclusively with Unidym to support Unidym’s transparent conductive films business, and expect to pursue several applications for these extraordinary materials beyond Unidym’s core markets.”

According to industry sources, Concarb’s new conductive black products are also based on internally developed technology. According to the company, potential applications for its conductive blacks include electrostatic dissipation, conductive polymers, platinum catalyst support, batteries and energy storage, cables, coatings, packaging for IC parts, automotive parts, and cell phones, among others.

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It should be noted that another US carbon black producer, Sid Richardson, also recently expanded its product portfolio with a new line of conductive blacks under the Sidcon tradename. The line consists of three grades (Sidcon 159, 419, and 119) offering varying levels of conductivity and processability. These three grades complement an existing line of 13 specialty grades that the company has developed and introduced over the last three years or so.

Taken together, the Concarb and Sid Richardson developments mean that all of the US carbon black suppliers (rounded out by Cabot, Evonik, and Columbian Chemicals) can now offer conductive grades. Internationally, Indian-based Phillips Carbon Black has also recently expanded into conductive blacks. These moves reflect a desire to expand the customer base beyond tiremakers and producers of industrial rubber goods.

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