The People Behind Innovation at CarbonX

 How does a young, sustainability-driven company make an impact on a global scale? Look no further than our success in tires to see why diversity and collaboration are vital for accelerating change…

 

Building a low-carbon future requires changing the way we do business on a global scale. It requires innovation and disruption. The question is no longer “why,” but “how.” Companies want to be more sustainable. But in many cases, greater sustainability just isn’t possible without being able to match or even improve the performance of their materials first.

CarbonX® could change that. But change isn’t just about technology. It’s about the vision that brings us together and the people who make it happen. 

 

On the path to disruption

“When you have a company centred around a new technology like CarbonX, it inspires people to be more open to new possibilities,” says Sophie Dik, Head of Sales.

For a novel material like CarbonX®, every application is an innovation. But disruption is a process. It takes time to innovate, inspire action, and change the status quo. And all innovations, of course are subject to industry biases and resistance to change.

But every bias is an chance to prove that we don’t have to continue business-as-usual. Look no further than our recent success in the tire industry to see how the company’s collaborative culture has evolved and helped the team achieve extraordinary results and put CarbonX firmly on the path to greater change.

 

Winning over the tire industry, one bias at a time

First we needed to show that we could produce our material on a scale large enough to meet the industry needs. Then we had to show our material could outperform conventional fillers in tires and truly improve sustainability in the use phase.

We also needed to prove our material worked in the real world, not just in the lab, and demonstrate the benefits in terms of CO2 reduction. And finally, we had to show that our solution could be easily adopted and even increase the effectiveness of existing sustainability strategies shared by the tire and automotive industries.

 

Producing enough material to meet the demands of the tire industry

It’s true that building a new production facility typically requires a big investment that could take years to complete. So many clients are surprised to learn that we started producing CarbonX on a commercial scale in 2018, just four years after the company was formed. However, the team found that the use of existing carbon black plants via toll manufacturing would allow us to scale up faster and produce our material on demand.

“Any successful project relies on good teamwork,” says Robin Crepin, Head of Production, “but the commitment and the positive attitude in the company really stand out for me. From the junior to the CTO, everyone is willing to contribute and help each other out.”

 

 

Crepin was able draw from his experience as an equipment and process engineer for large oil refineries to adapt the process. He works with teams across multiple countries ensure success from both technical and logistical points of view.

 

Proving greater sustainability can be achieved in the use phase, not just in production

When we first approached the tire industry, manufacturers seemed pretty convinced that the only way to improve sustainability was through sustainable sourcing and energy efficiency. Our technical team focused on proving that CarbonX® could maximize sustainability developing a unique tread compound that substituted both silica and carbon black. We worked with a certified third party to validate our data and determine the CO2 savings in the use phase.

Now we had a new challenge: CarbonX® has yielded credible results in the lab, but does it work in the real world? Our team approached this challenge in two ways.

 

Using CarbonX® in commercial tires

“When you approach a new topic with a young team with strong foundations, diverse expertise, and open minds, the team can learn the language but it is not bound to it by any bias,” says Roberto Calderone, Head of Marketing.

The sales and marketing teams drew on their experience in science and engineering as well as design, communication, and business development to identify how the company could translate the data into real-world benefits and use it to engage clients more effectively. Their efforts paid off, securing two commercial partnerships within the year.

Together, our team developed new tread compounds that are now commercially available as winter PCR tires and road racing tires. These projects allowed us to build more credibility and bring our solutions to life.

 

Making our own tires and testing CarbonX® on the road

Encouraged by our commercial successes, we wanted to accelerate adoption of our material, so we decided to make our own tires. But material companies like us do not typically develop or make tires. So our R&D team created a partnership and worked closely with renowned tread compounders and retreaders to scale up the formulation and produce tires along with reference tires that could be tested on the road (read more about the formulation and results here).

 

 A culture built around people inspires innovation

CarbonX strives to create a company culture that reflects our values and inspires change. Having a sustainability-driven mission has helped attracted diverse, talented individuals from around the world who are committed and inspired to achieve the same goals.

“We want to make a change in the world – and our people are drawn to that mission,” says Rutger van Raalten, CEO at CarbonX.

We believe innovation thrives in a culture built on diversity, transparency and mutual respect.  A diverse team can approach challenges from more angles and see things others may have missed. We are problem-solvers at heart – and we are all skilled at solving different kinds of problems. Working through challenges together allows us to come up with better solutions.

“The innovation we strive for can only be achieved by embracing diversity and inclusion,” adds Daniela Sordi, CTO at CarbonX, “and putting collaboration at the core of our company culture.”  

Working in an environment where everyone feels valued allows us to build confidence, trust in each other, and grow together. Taking away the fear of failure gives us the opportunity to experiment more and push beyond the limits of what we thought was possible. 

 

Looking to work for a company where you can make a difference from Day One? CarbonX is growing …fast! Learn more About Us and check out our Careers Page to see our latest opportunities to join the team!

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