TOKYO—Japanese elastomer producer Zeon Corp., in partnership with Yokohama Rubber Co Ltd. and a Japanese research agency, has succeeded in synthesizing isoprene from biomass, a development that could lead to help reduce future dependence on petroleum and reduce CO2 emissions.
Isoprene is the raw material used to produce polyisoprene rubber—often called “synthetic natural rubber”—used extensively for automobile tires, Zeon said. Isoprene traditionally is synthesized from petroleum.
Zeon said it has been engaged since 2013 in joint research with YRC and the National Research & Development Agency (Riken) for producing synthetic rubbers from biomass, using the cell design and plant science technologies of the Riken Centre for Sustainable Resource Science.
“As a result, we were able to discover a new method for synthesizing isoprene by designing an artificial metabolic pathway using in silico metabolic design technology, used for designing the metabolic pathways of a microorganism at a genomic scale on a computer,” Zeon said in a statment.
The group intends to commercialize the technology by the early 2020s.