Sweet Innovation in Synthetic Rubber by Yokohama Rubber Engineers - Tire Review Magazine

Sweet Innovation in Synthetic Rubber by Yokohama Rubber Engineers

The new technology has succeeded in creating cells with the in-vivo capability of generating isoprene from a biomass (sugar) that serves as the starting material.

Polyisoprene rubber polymerized using the new technology developed by Yokohama Rubber and partners.

Isoprene is a raw material in the production of synthetic rubber (polyisoprene rubber) used in automobile tires and other applications. The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., announced today that it has developed the world’s first technology capable of efficiently producing isoprene from a biomass. The new breakthrough is the result of joint research with RIKEN and Zeon Corporation. The development of this new technology for synthesizing isoprene will reduce dependence on petroleum and contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is considered a cause of global warming.

Yokohama Rubber, RIKEN and Zeon began joint research in 2013 and in 2015 discovered a new isoprene-synthesizing process using a computer-based metabolic design technology. According to Yokohama, further development of this new technology has led to the creation of cells with excellent isoprene-synthesizing capability based on a new artificial pathway and highly active enzymes. The new technology has succeeded in creating cells with the in-vivo capability of generating isoprene from a biomass (sugar) that serves as the starting material. The in-vivo generated isoprene is then polymerized to achieve synthesis of polyisoprene rubber.

Isoprene is produced naturally from mevalonic acid (an intermediate substance formed from sugar) through a five-stage reaction, but the new artificial pathway constructed through the joint research reduces that process to two stages. Furthermore, the highly active enzymes possess a phenomenal isoprene-producing capability that is not achievable by natural enzymes. Introducing this artificial pathway and these enzymes into colon bacilli gives the bacteria an isoprene-generating ability that it lacks in nature and enables an efficient artificial synthesis of isoprene. Yokohama Rubber has confirmed that this technology can also be applied to butadiene-based synthetic rubber and other diene rubbers.

 

 

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