Biomass-based synthetic rubber developed by Bridgestone, Ajinomoto
Bridgestone Corporation has announced that, together with Ajinomoto Co., Inc, it has developed polymerised high-cis polyisoprene (IR), a synthetic rubber produced using bio-based isoprene, a substance produced from biomass raw materials using fermentation technology. The partners say they aim to commercialise this synthetic rubber for use in tyres and are proceeding with further research.
The Japanese tyre maker says it is committed to developing technologies and business models that use recyclable and renewable resources to a greater extent. The company is aiming for a 100 per cent utilisation of sustainable materials by 2050, but as demand for natural rubber is expected to rise in tandem with swelling car ownership worldwide, natural rubber production may not be able to keep pace with this growth. Petroleum-based isoprene extracted from crude oil feedstock is currently used as an intermediate material for producing synthetic rubber, however production capacity of this product is also constrained. Thus to ensure an ongoing supply of raw materials, and to meet its 2050 commitment, Bridgestone has been searching for ways procure the necessary materials from renewable resources.
Ajinomoto – the company best known for bringing MSG to the world – provided the biomass used to develop the polymerised IR. The Japanese firm signed an agreement with Bridgestone in June 2011 to jointly research synthetic rubber using new rubber raw materials. Ajinomoto has been producing amino acids using fermentation technology since 1957, and is now a global leader in the field.
Since IR can replace natural rubber in some applications, Bridgestone says it expects the substance to offer a further option for diversifying the sources of raw materials used in tyre production.