CLERMONT-FERRAND, France (Nov. 13, 2013) — Group Michelin is partnering with a French energy enterprise to develop and commercialize butadiene based on biological sources, such as biomass, etc., to be used to make synthetic rubber (SR) — and eventually low environmental-impact tires.
The project, dubbed "BioButterfly," will conduct research into developing more environmentally friendly sources of SR, Michelin said, together with Axens, a research unit of IFP Energie Nouvelles of Rueil-Malmaison, France.
BioButterfly covers all stages of the R&D process from the pilot phase to the validation of an industrial processing plant, Michelin said, based on the complementary skills and expertise of the partners.
The project has a budget of $70 million over eight years, the tire maker said without divulging how much each partner is investing. Included in the funding is a grant of $20 million from France's Agency for Environment and Energy Management.
"This joint research with Axens/IFP is an excellent opportunity for Michelin to find sustainable supply and new avenues for elastomers, which are necessary for the quality of our tires," said Terry Gettys, director of R&D at Michelin. "The project will provide us with new materials both effective and responsible."
For Axens, this collaboration is an "opportunity to strengthen its expertise and market presence conversion processes of biomass in the field of biofuels and bio-based chemicals," said Jean-Luc Nocca, vice president, executive in charge of technological development and innovation.
IFP created Axens in 2001 to research and develop refining technologies and catalysts, especially for the production of clean fuels.