News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

February 24, 2012

Amazing Before-and-After Photos of Japanese Tsunami

Filed under: General — Notch @ 1:16 am

As we approach the one year anniversary of Japan’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, the Atlantic has published an amazing set of before-and-after photographs of the devastation and its cleanup. The amount of work that has been done in the face of such adversity is truly a testament to the spirit and fortitude of the Japanese people.


Photo: The Atlantic (click to enlarge)

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February 20, 2012

Conti finds first OE fitment for low rolling resistance tire

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 2:52 am

From Tyrepress (subscription required): Renault has chosen Continental’s new Conti.e.Contact range of low rolling resistance tires as OE equipment on its ultra-compact Twizy. Conti produces the tires, which are intended for electric and hybrid vehicles, at its factory in Korbach, Germany.

Continental claims that the Conti.eContact tires achieve rolling resistance levels that are 30% lower than conventional tires. The German tiremaker says its engineers achieved this reduction by using an unusual tire dimension, a large diameter, narrow 195/55 R 20. Thanks to the larger tire diameter, deformation of the tire is reduced when entering the contact patch, which lowers rolling resistance considerably with no loss in load bearing capacity. In addition, the tire’s sidewall has been designed in such a way that less energy is lost when the tire deflects and rebounds. The tire’s overall weight was also reduced, which reduces rolling resistance.

February 17, 2012

Notch publishes new Carbon Black World Data Book

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 7:00 am

Notch Consulting is proud to announce the publication of the 2012 edition of the Carbon Black World Data Book, which has been fully updated and expanded. Published annually, the Carbon Black World Data Book is an essential resource for anyone involved in the carbon black industry, whether as a producer, customer, supplier, or investor. The report provides extensive data on carbon black capacity, capacity utilization, production, imports, exports, apparent consumption, demand by market (passenger tires, truck tires, other tires, non-tire rubber goods, and specialty) and demand by grade (tread, carcass, and other), as well as market value and average pricing. This truly is the most comprehensive and up-to-date report available on the carbon black industry.

With its prospects tied inextricably to those of the motor vehicle and tire industries, the carbon black industry has emerged from the global economic downturn in solid shape. Global demand grew 15% in 2010 and is projected to grow another 5.8% in 2011, reaching record volumes of nearly eleven million tonnes. Gains are being driven by rising demand in all major markets (tires, non-tire rubber, specialty applications), with production of radial passenger tires and large off-road tires remaining key drivers of market expansion. Future demand for carbon black will directly benefit from the more than $18 billion that the tire industry is scheduled to invest in new tire production capacity from 2011 through 2017. )The latest edition of the Carbon Black World Data Book includes a comprehensive list of these projects and their expected affect on carbon black demand.) After bottoming out at 70% in 2009, capacity utilization rates (i.e., production as a share of nameplate capacity) are expected to average 77% in 2011, a substantial improvement considering that the industry added some 1.3 million tonnes/year of new capacity from year-end 2009 to year-end 2011. If China is excluded from figures, utilization averaged a very healthy 88% in 2011.

Purchase of the Carbon Black World Data Book 2012 also incluees three issues of the Carbon Black Quarterly Newsletter, to be published April 2012, July 2012, and October 2012. These quarterly reports provide quarterly and monthly contract prices for major carbon black grades for the United States, the European Union, and Brazil, and monthly spot prices for China. The quarterly report also includes updated supply/demand data, including year-to-date quarterly figures and full-year forecasts for the current year. It also provides industry news and the latest information on capacity expansions and utilization. Note that the Carbon Black Quarterly Newsletter can also be purchased separately, either on a single issue or on an annual subscription basis.

For more information or to order this report, write to info AT notchconsulting.com or call Notch Consulting at 413-253-3371.

Click here for an overview of the Carbon Black World Data Book 2012.

Click here for an overview of the Carbon Black Quarterly Newsletter.

February 16, 2012

Koppers announces new coal distillation and carbon black project for China

Filed under: Carbon Black, General — Notch @ 10:43 am

Koppers Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc., has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Nippon Steel Chemical, Sojitz JECT, Pizhou City People’s Government and Yizhou Group to develop and construct a fully integrated coal tar based carbon products complex in Pizhou City, Jiangsu Province, China. The facilities are expected to be comprised of three plants including a 250,000 metric ton coal tar distillation plant and two downstream plants producing needle coke and carbon black. It is envisioned that the carbon black and needle coke facilities will be wholly-owned subsidiaries of Nippon Steel Chemical and the coal tar distillation facility will be owned by Koppers and Yizhou Group, with Koppers owning a majority share. Plant construction is expected to commence in 2012 with completion targeted for early 2014.

In a press release, Walter W. Turner, president and CEO of Koppers, said, “We are excited to have the unique opportunity to partner with Nippon Steel Chemical, Sojitz JECT, Pizhou City, and Yizhou Group for this growth project. The joint cooperation among these entities brings together the many strengths of each partner to further expand our presence in the carbon and chemicals markets in China.”

In early December 2011, Koppers Holdings announced it would shut down its carbon black plant in Kurnell, New South Wales, Australia, which was operated by Continental Carbon Australia. The shut down was completed before year-end.

February 14, 2012

Columbian Chemicals expanding carbon black capacity & adding cogen at Hamilton, Ontario

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 10:00 am

Columbian Chemicals, a division of Birla Carbon, today announced an expansion for its carbon black plant in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The company will begin the necessary permitting processes along with front end engineering in the first quarter of 2012 to confirm feasibility of new production capacity along with a state of the art energy center.

Phase 1 of the investment will include an estimated 45kMT of new carbon black production capacity along with an energy center designed to leverage efficiencies of the plant to supply electricity for both internal and external uses. The announcement did not include a completion date.

“Birla Carbon is committed to supporting our customers’ growth plans,” says John Loudermilk, Columbian’s President, North America, in a press release. “The Hamilton Plant’s outstanding history of producing world class products, the proximity to our customer base, and the excellent talent pool in the Ontario region position us well to provide that support.”

Here is the full press release.

Columbian Chemicals is part of Birla Carbon, the world leading carbon black business of the Aditya Birla Group, a $35B global conglomerate.

February 13, 2012

Tire Tech coming to Cologne this week

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 12:29 am

The European tire industry’s premium conference, the annual Tire Technology Expo, will be held this week (February 14-16) in the Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany.

Full program and details available here.

Michelin raises profit forecast based on boost in mining tires and strong pricing

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 12:20 am

From Reuters:

Michelin SCA, the world’s No.2 tyremaker, raised its 2015 profit goal by a quarter, encouraged by demand from European and U.S. truckmakers, strong pricing and growth in outsize tyres for the mining industry.

The French company, which makes tyres for everything from bicycles to airliners, said net income rose 39 percent to 1.46 billion euros ($2 billion) in 2011, beating analysts’ expectations of 1.32 billion, on a 16 percent revenue increase to 20.72 billion.

February 10, 2012

Cabot carbon black chosen for auto paint

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 2:09 am

Taiwan-based Halsan Paint & Color has chosen Cabot’s EMPEROR 1800 carbon black for its next-generation black automotive coatings, which find use on vehicles and motorcycles across Asia.

Black coatings formulators are continuously trying to achieve superior jetness, meaning cleaner and darker with a blue tint, with the use of carbon black pigments that are considerably difficult to handle. Several top-class carbon black pigments have drawbacks that include the use of costly dispersants and long milling times. They minimize the formulator’s capability to alter other features of the final coating.

EMPEROR 1800 is the Cabot’s newly developed product in the area of high-strength black pigments used for water-borne formulations. This advancement contributes to reduction in manufacturing costs and exceeds industry standards for color performance.

PCBL reports 35% decline in profits; cites Chinese imports

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 1:52 am

Phillips Carbon Black, India’s largest carbon black maker, reported a fall of 35% in its net profit at Rs 19.64 crore during the third quarter ended December 31, 2011 as compared to Rs 30.03 crore for the same period in 2010. Sales, however, rose to Rs 514.34 crore from Rs 431.61 crore due to higher prices caused by a sharp rise in cost of inputs. The performance was affected due to lower off-take by tire companies and higher imports of carbon black from China at dumping prices. This resulted in lower capacity utilization for PCBL’s new plant in Mundra, which started up in April 2011.

Full results can be found here.

Michelin considering new plant in South Carolina

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 1:40 am

Michelin North America is searching for the right location for its so-called “Project Cougar,” a tire plant valued at some $550 million. One possible site is in Anderson County, South Carolina, where Michelin already operates a rubber mixing and semi-finished goods plant in Shady Springs, SC.

According to the Anderson Independent Mail, Michelin North America is seeking a land/incentives deal with plans to invest a purported $550 million. According to the newspaper, “Interim county administrator Rusty Burns confirmed Monday night (Feb. 6) that Michelin is the company that officials have been calling ‘Project Cougar’ during public meetings where incentives were discussed.

The newspaper said the county council held the second of three required votes on an incentive package on Feb. 6, and a public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.

“‘This is still very much a competition,’ Burns said. ‘We are competing with others in South Carolina and on other shores,’” the newspaper reported.

On Jan. 17, the Anderson County Council voted unanimously for a “conditional incentives agreement” it planned to take to the tiremaker. The deal reportedly “says larger incentives are available if the company completes what is considered an ‘enhanced investment project’ that creates a minimum of 125 jobs and includes a minimum investment of $150 million,” the Independent Mail reported. “Incentives for the company will be even larger, according to the agreement, if the business creates at least 300 jobs and invests a little more than $500 million in Anderson County.”

Based on more recent tire plant projects announced for the state – Continental Tire the Americas and Bridgestone Americas both committed to huge investments in the state last year – $550 million would not appear to be enough for more than one facility. But the newspaper noted that “Economic development director Burriss Nelson said during the county council’s January meeting that the proposed project amounts to a minimum investment of $550 million. He said that, over time, the company’s plan could grow into a larger project that would be in the ‘$600 million to $1 billion’ range.”

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