TOKYO (Feb. 24, 2017) — Bridgestone Corp. is claiming a breakthrough in polymer science that could yield a synthetic isoprene (IR) with performance characteristics surpassing those of natural rubber (NR) and which could be derived from renewable biomass.
Bridgestone said its breakthrough was achieved through the use of "precise molecular structure control" using a proprietarily developed polymerization catalyst that allowed its researchers to synthesize IR with "exceptionally high" molecular microstructure regularity similar to the levels seen in NR.
The development is in line with corporation's goal of working toward sourcing all of the raw materials used in its tires from sustainable materials by 2050. To accomplish this, Bridgestone said it is advancing research and development activities on various raw materials such as natural rubber and polyisoprene.
Natural rubber is an organic resource produced by the Para rubber tree, Bridgestone noted, and is considered a key raw material in tire production due to its superior durability and wear resistance when compared with synthetic rubber. It also exhibits strong adhesiveness with reinforcement materials.