COPENHAGEN, Denmark (Sept. 17, 2008) — Goodyear, in collaboration with a Danish biotechnology company, is researching a bio-based process for making isoprene using renewable raw materials.
Goodyear and Copenhagen-based Genencor are developing BioIsopren, a bio-based alternative for the petroleum-derived chemical compound isoprene monomer.
BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber — which in turn is an alternative to natural rubber — and other elastomers, Genencor said. The company is a division of Danisco A/S, one of the world's largest producers of food ingredients.
Danisco and Goodyear have been investing jointly for more than a year to validate the project, establish the teams and secure intellectual property assets, Genencor said. Danisco said it will invest about $50 million over the coming three years to continue technology development, scale-up and deliver manufacturing cost targets. Additional investments to establish pilot plant operations and manufacturing infrastructure are expected.
The size of Goodyear's investments was not disclosed.
The partners expect Genencor to be technically ready to make the material by 2010 and to commission a large-scale plant by 2012. Genencor, which is involved in industrial biotechnology, plans to supply Goodyear with BioIsoprene through a strategic supply arrangement.
Goodyear in turn plans to use the material to produce synthetic rubber and other elastomers.
Sales of BioIsoprene by Genencor to third parties also are anticipated for all market applications of high-purity isoprene. Danisco estimates the world market potential for high-purity isoprene at $1 billion to $2 billion.
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, according to statements attributed to Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear's chief technology officer.