Making Rubber From Renewables

Supply constraints and high prices give a bounce to raw materials derived from sugar

The common automobile tire contains rubber that’s extracted from latex-bearing trees and rubber that’s synthesized from petroleum feedstocks. Industrial biotechnology companies such as Genencor, Gevo, Amyris, and Genomatica want to give tire manufacturers a third option: biobased rubber ingredients made from sugar.

Microbial fermentation holds promise for making three renewable rubber intermediates: isoprene, isobutene, and butadiene. Two leading tire makers – Goodyear and Michelin – along with synthetic rubber manufacturer Lanxess have entered into partnerships with industrial biotech firms to advance the commercial production of these rubber intermediates from sugar.

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Tags: natural rubber, synthetic rubber, biobased chemicals, chemical intermediates


Chemical and Engineering News, Vol. 89 Issue 50, pp. 18-19, 2011-12-12.


Genomatica, Inc.
Gevo Inc.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
International Rubber Study Group (IRSG)