US renewable chemicals and fuels firm Amyris has agreed to
work with tire company Michelin on the development and
commercialization of Amyris No Compromise
renewable isoprene, the chemical building block in rubber tires
and other products that use synthetic and natural rubbers.
Under the agreement, Amyris and Michelin will partner to
contribute funding and technical resources to develop
Amyris technology to produce isoprene from
Amyris expects to begin to commercialize this isoprene in
2015 for use in tire and other specialty chemical applications
such as adhesives, coatings and sealants.
In the deal, Michelin is committed to off-take volumes on a
10-year basis, the companies said. In addition, Amyris retains
the right to market its renewable isoprene to other
This partnership will allow both companies to continue
Michelins tradition of innovation in the tire industry
and expand Amyriss industrial biotechnology platform for new
products, said John Melo, CEO of Amyris.
Growing demand for isoprene and a desire to increase the
sourcing of sustainable raw materials create a great
opportunity for Amyris to bring to market renewable solutions
with No Compromise performance that also reduce price
volatility," he added.
Amyriss technology, currently used to
produce at commercial scale a 15-carbon molecule called farnesene,
can also convert plant-based sugars into isoprene, a 5-carbon molecule and main ingredient
in the production of synthetic rubber.
Isoprene has traditionally been produced as a by-product of
the thermal cracking of naphtha to produce ethylene or via C4
refinery stream synthesis.
As the petrochemical industry adjusts to
lighter cracking slates with the advent of shale gas, new
sources of isoprene have become necessary.