A research team consisting of members from Zeon Corp. (TYO:4205), Riken and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. (TYO:5101) has developed a new, world-first technology able to efficiently create butadiene from biomass.
Butadiene is mainly employed as a primary raw material for synthetic rubber, which in turn is used to make products such as automotive tires. At present, this butadiene is created industrially as a by-product from naphtha pyrolysis; but by establishing technology for the production of biomass-derived butadiene, the sector would be able to become less dependent on petroleum. Such technology could therefore help minimize CO2 emissions, the cause of global warming.
By way of a new artificial metabolic pathway and enzymes, the joint research team has been able to create cells with excellent butadiene production capabilities. Specifically, the team made it possible to use microorganism-based biosynthesis to create muconic acid – a type of unsaturated dicarboxylic acid – which can then be used as an intermediate for butadiene production. What is more, by incorporating knowledge about previously developed enzymes, the method here promises significant reductions in the cost of producing butadiene through fermentation processes.
The results of this research have been published in Nature Communications, a London-based academic journal specializing in fields such as biology and chemistry.