AKRON (Oct. 17, 2008) — Goodyear and the Genencor division of Danisco A.S. are working together to develop a bio-based process for producing isoprene using renewable raw materials.
The alternative for the petroleum-derived chemical compound will be called BioIsoprene and be used in the production of synthetic rubber and other elastomers, according to Jesse Roeck, Goodyear director of research and development, compounding science. He said the chemical could make the tire and rubber industries less dependent on oil-derived products.
Danisco and Goodyear have been investing in the research—conducted at Genencor's laboratories in Palo Alto, Calif.—for more than a year to validate the project, establish teams and secure intellectual property assets, Roeck said.
“We believe this could be a source of isoprene that isn't linked to oil, is relatively more stable, could provide Goodyear with another raw material option for synthetic rubber and help reduce the company's carbon footprint,” he said.
To date, the firms' technical pro-gress has exceeded expectations, the companies said in a joint statement. Over the next three years, Danisco will invest about $50 million to continue technology development, scale up and set a manufacturing cost structure, the firm said. Goodyear didn't disclose its investment in the project.
Additional capital spending to fund construction of a pilot plant in 2010 along with establishing a manufacturing infrastructure will be made at a later date. A full large-scale plant is expected to be added by 2012 with product hitting the market in 2013, Roeck said.
Genencor will produce BioIsoprene, although it hasn't decided yet where to locate the production facility, he said. The business unit of Copenhagen, Denmark-based Danisco will supply Goodyear, one of the world's largest users of isoprene for SR production, with BioIsoprene through a strategic supply agreement.
The companies also said the product will be sold to third parties by Genencor. Danisco estimated the glo-bal market for high-purity isoprene at between $1 billion and $2 billion annually.
The project was launched not long after Goodyear approached Genencor and Danisco with the idea about a year ago, Roeck said.