LANXESS, a German-based specialty chemicals company, has intended to produce the world’s first bio-based ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) rubber by the end of 2011.
Traditionally, EPDM is manufactured using petroleum-based raw materials like propylene and ethylene. But, LANXESS has planned to utilize ethylene that is sourced purely from sugarcane, a renewable resource. The bio-based ethylene is made by dehydrating ethanol from sugarcane. Various features of EPDM include good electrical insulation, excellent resistance to weathering, chemicals, oxidation and heat and very low density. The major application of EPDM rubber is the automotive industry and other applications include oil additives, construction, cable and wire and plastics industries.
LANXESS has signed an agreement with Braskem for the supply of bio-based ethylene to LANXESS’ EPDM facility in Triunfo, Brazil. The partnership with LANXESS will help to extend Braskem’s renewable chemicals’ customer portfolio.
Currently, Triunfo-based plant produces 40,000 t of EPDM rubber per year. LANXESS expects that the first batches of Keltan Eco, a bio-based EPDM rubber, will reach several hundred tons. The company also has EPDM production facilities in Orange, Texas; Marl, Germany; and Geleen and The Netherlands. LANXESS has planned to display Keltan Eco product at Rubber Day Germany.
LANXESS is also looking for substitute resources to make butyl rubber, which is significantly used in the tire industry. The company is working with Gevo to develop isobutene, a major raw material used for manufacturing butyl rubber, from renewable sources such as corn.