By Oliver Hall
The first-ever tyres made from renewable resource BioIsoprene have gone on display at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.
Polyisoprene is a component of synthetic rubber, which makes up about 24% of standard tyres. It is derived from petroleum as a by-product of the thermal cracking of naphtha and gas oil.
As an alternative, BioIsoprene was developed jointly by biotech firm Genencor and tyre manufacturer Goodyear and is made by the fermentation of renewable feedstocks such as corn and sugarcane with rDNA bacteria, before being recovered and purified. Genencor says it is testing a wide range of feedstocks.
The research agreement to develop BioIsoprene was signed in Octoer 2008 and the total investment by Danisco, Genencor’s parent company, and Goodyear, will amount to $50m.
In March 2009 the first gallon of BioIsoprene was made.
Genencor is stressing that at present the tyres are just concept tyres, with expected commercial production by 2013.