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Goodyear & DuPont working to develop bio-based rubber

On March 6, Goodyear announced that it was working together with DuPont Industrial Biosciences to develop BioIsoprene™, a bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene. BioIsoprene™ can be used for the production of synthetic rubber, which could help reduce the tire and rubber industry’s dependence on oil-derived products.

According to the press release, the two companies have demonstrated proof of the technology through the production of a prototype tire made with BioIsoprene™ monomer. This tire is on display on the Goodyear Dunlop stand at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show, which runs from March 8-18.

The two companies first signed on to the collaboration in 2008. In May of 2011, DuPont acquired Danisco and its Genencor division which has spearheaded the research and development activities around the BioIsoprene™ product.

DuPont and the former Genencor division of Danisco have cooperated before. An example is a joint research initiative between the groups that led to the development of an advanced bioprocess to produce renewably sourced 1.3 propanediol (BioPDO™). BioPDO™ is produced today in a world scale plant in Loudon, TN by the DuPont Tate and Lyle BioProducts joint venture. DuPont utilizes BioPDO™ to produce an advanced fiber, now sold as Sorona™, which is used in a wide range of applications including carpeting and apparel. The project earned the US Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2003.

The BioIsoprene™ monomer is derived from renewable raw materials. Aside from synthetic rubber for tire production, BioIsoprene™ can be used in a wide range of products such as surgical gloves, golf balls and adhesives. By itself, Goodyear is one of the world’s largest users of isoprene for the production of synthetic rubber and other elastomers.

The two companies have invested jointly for more than four years to validate the project, establish the teams, and secure intellectual property assets. To date, technical progress has exceeded expectations. Additional investments to establish pilot plant operations and manufacturing infrastructure are expected.

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