Sumitomo Rubber claims breakthrough in 'selective polymer development'
Previously reported tomato enzymes used as polymerisation catalyst
Kobe, Japan – Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd (SRI) has claimed a major breakthrough in synthesising biopolymers through a selective polymerisation process.
As part of its research, SRI scientists discovered that using modified tomato enzymes as a polymerisation catalyst made it possible to select polymer initial monomers 'at will'.
“Based on this discovery, we have now succeeded in synthesising biopolymers incorporating initial monomers that are more conducive to improving tire performance,” said Sumitomo Rubber 13 Oct.
The new biopolymers, said SRI, can help accelerate the development of what it described as “the ultimate fuel-efficient tires”.
The breakthrough is the latest in a series of bio-based rubber materials developments at SRI over the recent years.
In March, the company announced that it had successfully synthesised a biopolymer using a technology that determines the key sections affecting the length of polymer chain.
It then replaced the segment with a similar segment of a specially modified enzyme derived from tomatoes.
As part of its latest discovery, SRI said that its scientists had discovered that the use of modified tomato enzymes weakens initial monomer selectivity.
This, in turn, allows for synthesis starting from monomers other than the initial monomers typically involved in the initiation of polymerisation.
The Japanese rubber and tire group also used this newfound knowledge to synthesise “entirely new biopolymers” incorporating initial monomers that had been selected "at will."
SRI now aims to use the technology to improve the sustainability of its tires and develop products “that take fuel efficiency to all-new heights for the 2040s and beyond.”