Around 770,000 metric tonnes of isoprene – commonly used in vehicle tyres and many other rubber applications including medical equipment, toys, shoe soles, textiles – are produced annually. The most readily available source of isoprene is as a byproduct of crude oil cracking during the production of ethylene (plastics). But rising prices and diminishing supply from traditional petroleum-based sources are creating concern for the plastics industry.
Recently, there has been a shift in the production of ethylene due to the abundant supply and competitive price of natural liquid gas, however this process does not produce isoprene.
As a consequence, less isoprene is being extracted from ethylene production, creating a shortage and subsequent price rise. This trend is predicted to continue due to steadily rising demands for isoprene. While other solutions exist, they are significantly more expensive and only serve as marginal suppliers in current markets. In addition, crude oil cracking releases a considerable amount of C02 into the environment.
Visolis have developed a new microbe and supporting process technology to produce bio-based high-purity isoprene, Bioprene. The solution uses proprietary technology based on a bioengineered microbe that converts renewable materials (plant sugars) into isoprene with a high yield. Visolis are able to produce isoprene for less than half its current market price through a process that emits 4 times less CO2. Each Isoprene plant build on Visolis technology would have the same environmental impact as planting 20 million trees. Visolis represent the future in cheap sustainable isoprene.