EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, March 24, 2:55 p.m., Eastern Time
Motorists will be driving on the world’s first “green” tires within the next five years, scientists predicted here today, thanks to a revolutionary new technology that produces a key tire ingredient from renewable feedstocks rather than petroleum-derived feedstocks. The technology, described at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), stands to reduce the tire industry’s reliance on crude oil — 7 gallons of which now go into each of the approximately one billion tires produced each year worldwide.
The new tires will be a “sweet” advance toward greener, more sustainable transportation in a quite literal sense, according to Joseph McAuliffe, Ph.D., who reported on the technology. He is a staff scientist at Genencor, an industrial biotechnology company in Palo Alto, Calif. The process can use sugars derived from sugar cane, corn, corn cobs, switchgrass or other biomass to produce the ingredient, a biochemical called isoprene, derived from renewable raw materials.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, have established a research collaboration to develop an integrated fermentation, recovery and purification system for producing BioIsoprene™ product from renewable raw materials. Genencor intends to commercialize the technology within the next five years. In his ACS presentation, McAuliffe described how Genencor engineered bacteria to efficiently convert sugars to isoprene and how the smooth integration of fermentation and recovery processes promises to deliver a new route to this strategically important ingredient used to make synthetic rubber.