Ajinomoto Co., Inc. and Bridgestone Corporation have announced that they have jointly developed synthetic rubber using bio-based isoprene, a new raw material produced using fermentation technology from biomass raw material. The partners aim to commercialize synthetic rubber for tires using bio-based isoprene and are proceeding with the research.
The two main types of rubber are natural rubber extracted from rubber trees and synthetic rubber produced from crude oil. Rubber demand has been rising annually in tandem with automobile ownership worldwide, but it is difficult to raise production of natural rubber. Petroleum-based isoprene is used as intermediate material for synthetic rubber, which can partially replace natural rubber. It is constrained in its production capacity and increasing rubber supply is the challenge facing the tire and rubber industry.
Addressing this challenge, the two companies signed an agreement in June 2011 to jointly research synthetic rubber using new rubber raw materials and its applications as they embark on the research. Ajinomoto Co. has successfully manufactured bio-based isoprene at the laboratory scale using a fermentation process from biomass raw material, and Bridgestone has also succeeded to produce synthetic rubber (polyisoprene) from Ajinomoto Co.’s bio-based isoprene.
Bridgestone is the world’s largest supplier of tires, the main application for rubber. The company not only has production sites in countries worldwide, but also possesses formidable capabilities in polymer synthesis thanks to its cutting-edge technology in the polymerization catalyst field. The Ajinomoto Group has been producing amino acids using fermentation technology for more than 50 years since 1957. It is the global leader in amino acids, possessing production capacity in the range of one million tons a year, which is accomplished by using state-of-the-art fermentation technologies.
The two companies plan to put their advantages to the best use to develop synthetic rubber from biomass, thereby ensuring the stable production of synthetic rubber from sustainable resources, and helping diversify rubber resources.
The Ajinomoto Group contributes through its business activities to global sustainability, food resource development, and healthy living in order to address the issues facing mankind in the 21st century. Toward these ends, the group uses advanced biotechnology to develop and introduce fermentation processes that can be conducted using fewer resources. The development of bio-based isoprene marks an important step in replacing petrochemical raw materials with sustainable biological raw materials. It is one way we are working to build low-carbon and sustainable communities that embrace recycling.
Looking ahead, Ajinomoto Co. and Bridgestone plan to decide on the potential for commercialization in 2013.
About Ajinomoto Co.
Ajinomoto Co. is a global manufacturer of high-quality seasonings, processed foods, beverages, amino acids, pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals. For many decades Ajinomoto Co. has contributed to food culture and human health through wide-ranging application of amino acid technologies. Today, the company is becoming increasingly involved with solutions for improved food resources, human health and global sustainability. Founded in 1909 and now operating in 26 countries, Ajinomoto Co. had net sales of JPY 1,197.3 billion (USD 15.1 billion) in fiscal 2011.
Source: Ajinomoto Co., Inc., press release, 2012-05-31.