Goodyear to Collaborate in Development of Isoprene Substitute
On September 16 the announcement was made that Goodyear has entered into a research collaboration with Genencor, a division of Danish company Danisco A/S, to develop a bio-based process for producing isoprene using renewable raw materials.
Goodyear and Genencor are working on a product called BioIsoprene, a bio-based alternative for the petroleum-derived chemical compound isoprene. BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber and other elastomers. The development of BioIsoprene could, says Danisco, make the tyre and rubber industry less dependent on oil-derived products, such as synthetic rubber made from petroleum-derived isoprene monomer.
Danisco estimates the annual world market potential for high purity isoprene to be in the vicinity of US$1 to 2 billion, and believes BioIsoprene will address this market as a renewable and cost-competitive alternative to petroleum-derived isoprene. Genencor plans to manufacture and supply Goodyear with BioIsoprene through a strategic supply arrangement. Sales of BioIsoprene by Genencor to third parties are also anticipated for all market applications of high purity isoprene.
Danisco and Goodyear have been investing jointly for more than a year to validate the project, establish the teams and secure intellectual property assets. The Danish company reports that, to date, the technical progress has exceeded its expectations. Over the next three years, Danisco will invest approximately US$50 million to continue technology development, scale-up and deliver manufacturing cost targets. Additional investments to establish pilot plant operations and manufacturing infrastructure are expected, and the company expects technical readiness by 2010 and commission of the first large-scale manufacturing plant by 2012.
For Goodyear, a bio-based alternative to synthetic rubber would be an important advancement as the company seeks innovative approaches to addressing raw material needs, comments Danisco. “We truly see this as a unique opportunity that is consistent with our culture of innovation and industry leadership,’ adds Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear’s chief technology officer. ‘Since synthetic rubber is a critical component to our products, we are very excited to be working on this renewable alternative with Genencor.”