This news from Amyris is interesting given my article on biobased chemicals for rubber manufacturing published today on ICIS Chemical Business.
Amyris announced today that it has partnered with Japanese chemical company Kuraray to develop high-performance polymers using Amyris’ Biofene. The farnesene-based molecule will be used to replace petroleum-derived feedstock such as butadiene and isoprene.
Just a brief review on farnesene – this molecule is a sesquiterpene which are part of a larger class of compound called terpenes (ever heard of turpentine? I think I’ve mentioned before that Allylix is also working on sesquiterpenes…). Amyris’ farnesene is, of course, derived from sugar. I also found out during my research of isoprene (and butadiene) that isoprene is also called isoterpene, and that it’s molecular structure is 2-methyl-,1,3 butadiene.
Butadiene and isoprene are actually feedstock for rubber manufacture and are currently produced via petroleum refining although isoprene is more of a specialty type of chemical and not produced in large volumes. According to internet sources, natural rubber is a polymer of isoprene–most often cis-1,4-polyisoprene.
Amyris filed a patent last year in June about the production of a farnesene interpolymer derived from a farnesene and at least a vinyl monomer. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a chemist so I should leave the explanation of this invention to experts although I think there might be some nuggets of information here that can help explain what Amyris is up to in terms of using its Biofene to produce butadiene and isoprene-based high-performance polymers.
Also don’t forget to check out my ICB article that features bio-based butadiene and isoprene.