KASHIMA, Japan—Kuraray Co. Ltd. is broadening its approach with its liquid farnesene rubber line after several years of working with specific customers.
The first product from the line, LFR-107, could be used to improve grip in winter tire tread, said Ozzy Yoneji, elastomers business unit sales representative at Kuraray America Inc.
The new products come from the same source as a hydrogenated styrene farnesene copolymer created through a partnership with Amyris Inc., an industrial bioscience company located in Emeryville, Calif. Amyris used genetically engineered yeast cells to convert plant-sourced sugars such as sugarcane into target molecules. One of the target molecules is B-farnesene, a renewable monomer which was also used to create Kuraray's HSFC.
"Some of those molecules are used in biodiesel and fragrances. They're used in vitamins, and in a number of different applications," said Erich Klein, elastomers business unit marketing manager for Kuraray America. "They produce farnesene, which we then use to produce a grade of liquid rubber, which gives us very unique properties."
Because of LFR's branched structure, it shows some differentiation from conventional monomers like isoprene or butadiene, Yoneji said. Its viscosity also is completely different from those monomers because it has less entanglement.