Michelin partners with US firm to develop renewable isoprene
California-based renewable products company Amyris, Inc. reports it has signed a definitive agreement with Michelin to collaborate in the development and commercialisation of isoprene sourced from renewable feedstocks. The substance being developed, Amyris No Compromise renewable isoprene, is expected to be ready for commercialisation and use in tyre industry and other applications in 2015. Amyris says Michelin has committed itself to “off-take volumes” for a ten-year period. In addition, Amyris will retain the right under the agreement to market its renewable isoprene to other customers.
“This partnership will allow both companies to continue Michelin’s tradition of innovation in the tyre industry and expand Amyris’s industrial biotechnology platform for new products,” said John Melo, CEO of Amyris. “Growing demand for isoprene and a desire to increase the sourcing of sustainable raw materials create a great opportunity for Amyris to bring to market renewable solutions with No Compromise performance that also reduce price volatility.”
The Amyris technology, currently used to produce a 15-carbon molecule called farnesene on a commercial scale, can also convert plant-based sugars into isoprene, a 5-carbon molecule and a key ingredient in the production of synthetic rubber. Isoprene has traditionally been produced as a by-product of the thermal cracking of naphtha to produce ethylene or via C4 refinery stream synthesis. As the petrochemical industry adjusts to lighter cracking slates with the advent of shale gas, obtaining new sources of isoprene has become necessary.