Research into a naturally derived long-chain hydrocarbon called farnesene could lead to new elastomers for plastics.
Amyris Inc. and Kuraray Co. Ltd. have expanded their collaboration on farnesene-based polymers to develop high-performance materials. For two years the companies have been working on farnesene development using Amyris's Biofene brand farnesene. They have extended their collaboration for at least two more years.
Amyris makes its farnesenes at a purpose-built plant in Brotas, Brazil, which opened in late 2012. Engineered microbes ferment plant sugars into farnesene. Amyris also has relied on contract manufacturing sites to make the hydrocarbon, a cousin to a natural chemicals family called sesquiterpenes.
Amyris and Kuraray initially focused on using farnesene polymers to replace petroleum-based ingredients for vehicle tires. They developed Biofene-based liquid rubber that improves tire properties. Major tire producers are conducting field tests on the liquid rubber formulations. The partners have expanded their research into other potential applications such as elastomers, viscosity improvers, adhesives and sealants.
Kuraray of Tokyo has also begun work on a new category of elastomers, hydrogenated styrenic farnesene copolymers, which have improved flow properties and low residual strain, promising properties for vibration dampening applications.
Amyris will receive an undisclosed amount of collaboration funding from Kuraray and Kuraray will purchase about $ million of Amyris common stock in April 2014.
Amyris is based in Emeryville, Calif.
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