ERJ staff report (DS)
Tokyo - Bridgestone Corp said it has successfully polymerised small quantities of high-cis polyisoprene made from a bio-sourced isoprene monomer. Bridgestone sourced the isoprene monomer from Ajinomoto Co, Inc., which produced the monomer using fermentation technology from biomass raw material.
Chemically-speaking, natural rubber is cis 1,4 polyisoprene, so the material synthesised by Bridgestone is chemically similar to natural rubber. However, while the natural rubber produced in trees is usually 100 percent cis, the material produced in chemical factories has a small percentage of trans isomers, which degrades the properties.
Bridgestone said, â€œSince IR (synthetic polyisoprene rubber) can replace natural rubber in some cases, the Group expects it to be one of the means of diversifying raw material sources for tyres. Looking ahead, the Bridgestone Group aims to promote IR bioengineering technologies while confirming its rubber properties and further enhancing polymerisation catalyst technologies for developing IR with more advanced performance features.â€
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 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's bio-based isoprene.
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.
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Press release from Ajinomoto
Press release from Bridgestone