PARIS—Michelin and its partners, IFP Energies Nouvelles and Axens, are scaling up their BioButterfly project with the construction of an "industrial prototype" plant for the production of bio-based butadiene.
Launched in late 2012, the $80.5 million BioButterfly project is a 10-year plan, aiming to produce butadiene from plant-based ethanol, to be used for the production of environmentally friendly synthetic rubber.
Michelin said Sept. 26 that the construction work on the industrial-scale prototype will start later this year and is set for completion in late 2020. The plant will be built on Michelin's site in Bassens, near Bordeaux, where the tire maker already is producing petroleum-based butadiene to manufacture synthetic rubbers.
"After several years of laboratory tests, followed by the development of pilots at IFPEN-Lyon, the industrial prototype must now validate the complete chain of steps," Michelin said in its statement.
The prototype plant will validate the technological and economic viability for mass production of bio-butadiene at volumes between 20 and 30 metric tons per year.
Once validated, the industrial production of up to 100,000 tons per year will be implemented, Michelin said.
The plant will test the use of ethanol from all kinds of biomass, including 2G ethanol—second generation, non-competing-with-food ethanol made from forest or agricultural residues such as straw, woodchips, etc. The process has been developed by the French research institute IFPEN, and it will be included in the portfolio of green technologies marketed by bio-fuel expert Axens.
The products will support Michelin in meeting its target of having 80 percent sustainable raw materials in its tires by 2050.
"We expect bio-butadiene to represent approximately 20 percent of this objective," the tire maker said.
The BioButterfly project is supported by the French environment and energy agency, under its investments for the future program.