Michelin Takes Next Step in Producing Bio-Based Synthetic Rubber

Michelin Takes Next Step in Producing Bio-Based Synthetic Rubber

Michelin and its partners unveiled an industrial-scale demonstrator for producing bio-based butadiene, a key ingredient in synthetic rubber production.

Michelin, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN), and Axens have unveiled an industrial-scale demonstrator in Bassens near Bordeaux, France, for producing bio-based butadiene, a key ingredient in synthetic rubber production. This development is part of the BioButterfly project, which the three partners have been collaborating on with the support of ADEME, the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management. The project aims to manufacture butadiene from biomass-derived ethanol instead of petrochemical sources.

Butadiene is a critical raw material for the polymer industry, with 40% being used in tire manufacturing and the remaining 60% for products like varnishes, resins, ABS plastics, nylon for automotive applications, textiles, and construction materials. The bio-based alternative presents potential for these markets as well.

The demonstrator, operational since July 2023, aims to confirm the technological and economic feasibility of the production process, with a capacity of 20 to 30 metric tons per year. This is expected to facilitate the rapid industrialization of the technology.

Eric-Philippe Vinesse, executive vice president of research and development at Michelin, said, “For Michelin, which currently uses butadiene from petroleum to manufacture its synthetic rubbers, this technology is a wonderful opportunity to help reach the objective of using 100% renewed or recycled materials in its tires by 2050.”

The project, representing over €80 million ($86.7 million) in investment, has also received regional support and created around twenty jobs at the Michelin site in Bassens. The aim is to foster the growth of renewable butadiene production and to construct multiple plants globally to meet the demand for sustainable, bio-based materials.

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