Exhibitor Interview: Orion S.A.

Next up on our exhibitor interview series, we catch up with Kevin Milks, Marketing Manager at Orion S.A. 

Orion SA is a leading global manufacturer of sustainable solutions for elastomer and specialty carbon black applications. They make carbon black – over 300 different grades – in powder or beads, to customers’ exacting specifications. Not only for plastics, but tires, coatings, inks, batteries and other high-performance specialty applications. 

In polymer applications, manufacturers use carbon black to provide color and reinforcement, conduct electricity, increase durability, and add UV protection. Polymer applications include piping, engineered automotive parts, semi-conductive compounds for high voltage cables, cable jacketing, and film for agricultural applications.

What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors?

Orion is working closely with customers – across all applications – to develop circular, sustainable carbon blacks that reduce waste and carbon output.  We’re also developing new capacity to produce acetylene black (AB) in North America. To that end, we’re planning to build the only AB production facility in the U.S, in LaPorte, Texas. We expect to bring it online in the first half of 2025. The AB process generates a much higher yield than comparable furnace black, significantly reducing CO2 footprint. AB is an extremely important conductive component of high voltage cables used in large-scale renewable energy projects.

Are there any new technology developments that your company is working on at the moment?

We’re presenting our first circular specialty carbon black for polymer applications. It is produced from end-of-life tire pyrolysis oil, and matches the performance of regular, fossil-based specialty carbon black. Our tests show the circular black has the same dispersibility, high purity level, jetness and tinting strength as regular carbon blacks. The new grade can be used in piping, film, fiber, automotive, packaging applications and more. For packaging, it is suitable for food contact applications.

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry today, and how can this be overcome?

Stricter regulatory rules on carbon black plant emissions, including Orion’s 15 production sites worldwide, and recycle expectations from customers will require new thinking on feedstock supply and more efficient plant operation. Our innovation group is actively addressing these challenges.

How do you see the sector developing in the next five to ten years?

For Orion, we envision and are working on new sustainable carbon blacks for electric vehicle tire and other elastomer applications.  For high-performance carbon black in polymers, infrastructure re-building trends point to greater carbon black volumes in polyethylene (PE) water, gas, and drainage piping.  As I mentioned earlier, conductive carbon blacks will play an important role in medium- and high-voltage cables.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s show?

Orion appreciates the great venue and show traffic AMI delivers at Compounding World every year. My colleagues always look forward to customer meetings, the good mix of high-quality papers, and the industry leader forums.


 Orion are exhibiting at the Compounding World Expo North America 2023.