Versalis (Eni), a European producer in the polymers and elastomers industry, and Genomatica, a leader in bioengineering solutions, have successfully advanced to pilot-scale production of bio-butadiene (bio-BDE) from fully renewable feedstock. Versalis used this bio-BDE to make bio-rubber, specifically, bio-polybutadiene (bio-BR). These accomplishments represent a remarkable milestone for the rubber industry, by enabling an improved technological and sustainability footprint; and to the broader industry for butadiene, one of the most widely-used chemicals in the world, with over ten million tons produced per year.
The project started with the establishment of a technology joint venture between Versalis and Genomatica in early 2013. The joint venture uses the proven and complementary strengths of both companies. Versalis and Genomatica together determined that 1,3-butanediol (1,3-BDO) was the most suitable intermediate to produce bio-BDE. Genomatica applied its ‘whole-process’ systems approach to bioengineering to develop a microorganism that produces 1,3-BDO in a way that enables cost-efficient, scalable fermentation, recovery and subsequent process operations. Versalis leverages its industrial process engineering and catalysis capabilities, plus expertise in overall polymer production, to purify the 1,3-BDO, dehydrate it and then purify the resulting butadiene.
The access to on-purpose butadiene from renewables will establish a competitive advantage and will ensure a strategic raw material from alternative feedstock, contributing at the same time to drive a greater sustainability profile for downstream applications in the plastics and rubber businesses. - See more at: genomatica site