Biobutandiol, a precursor to butaniene (Dr. Cornish)
It will be a long time before natural rubber can be produced in sufficient quantity to replace petroleum/natural gas-derived synthetic rubber because of increasing global demand for both materials. However, there is also an increasing demand by the synthetic rubber industry for butadiene, the monomer for polybutadiene (this is 70% of all synthetic rubber). This monomer is in short supply because it used to be produced as a coproduct of the polyethelene production from oil. Production from natural gas coproduces only 10% of the previous quantity per factory. This creates an opportunity to produce bio-butadiene by fermentation processes and we have a collaborative project to do this research.