Carbon Black is primarily marketed in the form of powder (usually Specialty Carbon Black grades) and pellets (Specialty Carbon Black and Rubber Carbon Black grades). The handling systems differ substantially depending on the form of carbon black. Carbon Black is mainly delivered in bulk (silo trucks and rail cars), semi-bulk containers (flexible intermediate bulk containers) and, to a lesser extent, in bags.
Depending on the grade, powder Carbon Black and some pelletized Carbon Black can be fluidized pneumatically (using pressurized gas to effect mechanical motion). This makes it possible to convey them in large quantities through a plant using high air volumes. Due to its low bulk density and relatively poor flow characteristics, powder Carbon Black is usually not shipped in rigid vessels or silos, but rather packaged in bags or flexible intermediate bulk containers. Pelletized Carbon Black is much easier to handle due to significantly better flow and conveying properties. However, it still requires precautions to prevent degradation during transportation.
Carbon Black powder has a low density, which leads to higher transportation costs per volume (measured in kmt) of product shipped. Specialty Carbon Blacks can absorb these transportation costs, allowing for a global reach. Rubber Carbon Blacks, on the contrary, tend to be sold on a regional basis as transportation costs are high relative to their sales prices, and the quality of Rubber Carbon Black may deteriorate when shipped over long distances.