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Aug 19

Bacteria-Made Chemical Offers a Renewable Source of Synthetic Rubber

The future environmental footprint of the tire industry could be substantially shrunk thanks to a new ecofriendly way found by four RIKEN researchers that harnesses bacteria to make a chemical used in synthetic rubber1.

Each year, factories around the world churn out more than 12 million metric tons of the organic chemical 1,3-butadiene, which is used in tires, adhesives, sealants and other plastic and rubber products. They produce it by an energy-intensive process that relies on petroleum, which contributes to climate change.

Scientists have tried for many years to create 1,3-butadiene from more environmentally friendly starting materials by using specially designed microbes. But no one had previously succeeded in transforming a simple sugar such as glucose into the chemical in one easy step.

Now, by engineering bacteria to convert glucose into 1,3-butadiene, Yutaro Mori and his three co-workers, all at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, have devised a sustainable approach to rubber and plastic production. …

Source: RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science

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