Michelin Plans BD from Bioethanol
French tire manufacturer Michelin and partners IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN) and Axens have announced plans to build the first industrial-scale prototype of a plant producing butadiene (BD) from bioethanol.
Dubbed the BioButterfly project, the partners have spent several years performing laboratory tests followed by pilot production at IFPEN’s site in Lyon, France. The industrial-scale plant will be located on Michelin’s site in Bassens, near Bordeaux, and construction will start later this year with completion due in late 2020.
The facility will test the use of ethanol from all kinds of biomass, including second-generation ethanol made from forest or agricultural residues, such as straw and woodchips, while also validating the process’s technological and economic viability for mass production.
IFPEN has developed the technology, which Axens will eventually market.
Michelin currently uses BD at Bassens to manufacture its synthetic rubbers, which are mostly sold on the European market. According to the tiremaker, manufacturers consume more than 12 million t/y of BD worldwide, of which about 40% goes into tires.
The company added that the bioethanol route will enable it to better secure access to BD while supporting its goal of sustainable mobility. “By 2050, it said, 80% of raw material used in our tires will be sustainable. We expect bio-butadiene to represent approximately 20% of this objective,” added Michelin’s CEO, Florent Menegaux.
A total of €70 million has been invested in the BioButterfly project, which launched in late 2012 and is supported by Ademe, the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management under its Investments for the Future program.
Separately, Michelin presented its BioImpulse project at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy on Oct. 2 in Brussels, Belgium. The project aims to create a new adhesive resin without containing any Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), as defined under Europe’s REACH regulation.
Industrial adhesive resins have traditionally contained SVHC-classified compounds and Michelin said their substitution represents significant potential, primarily in automotive and construction markets.
The project, which will have a total investment of €28.1 million, will last for six years, ending in 2025.
Construction of a first industrial unit is planned for 2026, depending on the industrial context and the market at the time, Michelin said.
Also supported by Ademe, the project’s partners include French technological institute FCBA, the National Institute of Agricultural Research INRA and training and research institute INSA, as well as yeast manufacturer Lesaffre through its Leaf business unit.