Synthetic biology has been looked at as a way to potentially create more environmentally savvy biofuels and medicines, amongst other grand-scheme uses, but it turns out there may be a way to start using synthetic products much sooner – synthetic rubber tires.
California-based synthetic chemical firm Amyris and Paris-based Michelin tires are partnering up to develop isoprene, the chemical building block that creates synthetic rubber. While rubber is found in nature, isoprene is made of chemicals derived from oil.
According to Nature News, 85% of a barrel of oil’s volume is used to make fuel. However, the chemicals from the remaining 15% account for about 85% of the barrel’s money-making value. The two companies are working on using those extra chemicals to create useful products that wreak less havoc on the environment.
The Amyris and Michelin partnership is an example of an increasing number of startups and company partnerships working to create bio-derived chemicals. In this partnership, they plan on introducing isopropene to the market in 2015 for use in tires and for other specialty chemical uses, such as sealants, coatings and adhesives.
It seems there is significant opportunity available in the field of sustainable synthetic products, particularly making use of excess product that would normally go to waste. You’re not exactly getting your dollar’s worth if you’re wasting 15% of the product, are you?
Image CC licensed by pualv