Isoprene with formula C5H8 is a colorless volatile liquid produced by various plants. Many trees and plants such as poplars, oaks, legumes and eucalyptus emit isoprene into the atmosphere. Isoprene is also known as 2-methyl-1, 3-butadiene which is used as a chemical raw material. It is used as a starting material for a host of synthetic polymers, especially synthetic rubbers. A very small proportion of bio-based isoprene is used in the production of fragrance intermediates and flavors. Isoprene along with other unsaturated compounds is used to manufacture polymeric materials.
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Isoprene is produced naturally from plants through methyl-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway i.e. MEP pathway in the chloroplasts of trees and plants. One among the two end products of this pathway such as dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMADP) forms isoprene by the catalytic reaction by isoprene synthase. Through industrial process, isoprene was isolated from natural rubber by thermal decomposition. Industrially, it is readily available as a byproduct of thermal cracking of oil or naphtha as a side product in the ethylene production. Major fraction of isoprene produced worldwide is converted into polyisoprene. It is produced mainly from the petroleum derived feedstocks leading to inherent risk of volatility in prices and demand of oil. Moreover, it is expensive and environment unfriendly. These factors led to the use of bio-based products to manufacture isoprene.
Rising interest is seen in the production of isoprene from the genetically engineered micro-organisms. This new technology increases the fermentative capabilities of micro-organisms through a process of genetically engineering DNA. This process improves enzyme activity leading to increased yield of isoprene. This technology has huge potential in the market for manufacturing bio-based isoprene. Bio-based isoprene has applications in various end-user industries. It is used in the production of footwear, medical appliances, mechanical instruments and sporting goods. The major application of bio-based isoprene is in manufacturing rubber tires. It is also used in manufacturing various adhesives and elastomers. Surgical gloves such as nitrile, vinyl and latex gloves are also manufactured using bio-based isoprene. Transportation jets and jet fuels also make use of bio-based isoprene for its production.
The growing rubber industry and demand for rubber products is the major driving factor of global bio-based isoprene market. The rising awareness for environmental friendly products is also expected to boost demand for bio-based isoprene for a host of applications.
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW) are the key segments for global bio-based isoprene market. Asia Pacific, especially China and Latin America is the expected to fuel demand for bio-based isoprene due to large number of rubber industries in the region. North America and Europe are also expected to boost demand for bio-based isoprene for various applications such as adhesives and elastomers among others.
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The major companies profiled for global bio-based isoprene include: DuPont, Amyris, Good year Tire and Rubber Company, Genencor, Michelin, BioXcell, Ajinomoto Co. Inc, Bridgestone Corporation, PolymerOhio Inc, GlycosBio and Danisco among others. Companies into manufacture of bio-based isoprene have altered various enzymes in the biosynthetic pathway to enhance both the yield of isoprene and the rate of production. Technological advancements along with changes in the enzymatic pathways have improved the quantity and efficiency of isoprene and have reduced the production of by-products DuPont developed an innovative fermentation process for producing bio-based isoprene monomers from biomass using metabolically engineered E. coli strains.