Italy’s Versalis, Pirelli form guayule-based rubber research project

19 March 2013 11:40  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Versalis and Pirelli have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint research project for the use of guayule-based natural rubber in tyre production, the Italy-based producers said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Versalis, the chemicals division of energy firm Eni, will provide a range of guayule-based natural rubber materials, while Pirelli will carry out trial tests to validate the performance of the materials for tyre production.

The research project will run over a period of three years, the companies said. Guayule is a renewable, non-food crop that requires little water usage, no pesticides and is an alternative source of natural rubber.

“This new partnership between Versalis and Pirelli builds on a series of initiatives to develop technologies for tyre applications, with a focus on performance and energy efficiency,” said Daniele Ferrari, Versalis CEO.

“The research project into guayule-based natural rubber is one of our key activities that fully engages our team of researchers; it also underlines the strategic importance of long-standing partnerships like the one we have announced today with Versalis,” said Maurizio Boiocchi, chief technical officer of Pirelli.

The joint statement added the agreement is consistent with Versalis’ strategy of pursuing partnerships with key leaders in the field of bio-based chemical products.

“The agreement with Versalis integrates and extends Pirelli’s commitment in the search for new materials from renewable sources, and especially from biomasses,” the companies said.

In January, Versalis announced it was forming a strategic partnership with US-headquartered agricultural-based biomaterials firm Yulex Corporation to build an industrial production complex in southern Europe to manufacture guayule-based biorubber materials.

Ferrari in February said Versalis has shortlisted a set of potential sites for the complex, and the exact location will be decided within the first half of this year. Ferrari added Versalis will invest over €200m ($260m) over the next five years into the facility.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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