By Cameron Chai
Biotechnology and tire firms are partnering in order to obtain important raw materials from sugar instead of rubber trees or petroleum for the tires.
The present edition of the American Chemical Society’s weekly newsmagazine, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) has published an article on these innovative bio-based tires. It may be possible that motorists will be traveling on the first “green” tires in the coming years.
Melody M. Bomgardner, Senior Business Editor of C&EN stated that increased prices and stringent supplies for the synthetic and natural rubber utilized in the manufacture of tires, which is around 1 billion globally each year, is the main cause for the need of sustainable, renewable, raw material sources. For example, petroleum is a conventional raw material source required for tire manufacture with each tire needing around 7 gal of oil. Since oil-refining techniques have changed, the supplies of these raw materials have also been reduced.
The article explains how firms like Michelin and Goodyear have joined with biotechnology firms to engineer microbes genetically that generate the major raw materials from sugar for rubber. The partner of Goodyear, Genencor, for instance, is creating microbes that imitate the natural methods of rubber trees to create latex rubber. Prototype tires have already been created by Goodyear from rubber produced out of sugar. Bomgardner also added that firms believe sugar will protect them from synthetic and natural component scarcity creating an era within three to five years when “sweet”, eco-friendly tires will be launched.