Japan’s largest manufacturer of styrene monomer (SM), Idemitsu Kosan, has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s largest manufacturer of synthetic rubber, Kumho Petrochemical, and Sumitomo Corporation for the establishment of a long-term collaboration project to develop and grow the sustainable polymers and chemicals market in Asia.
Idemitsu will produce bio-SM using the mass-balance method, and Kumho will produce bio-SSBR (solution styrene-butadiene rubber), one of the main products for high-performance tires using that bio-SM.
Sumitomo will coordinate the collaborative project and work to further develop the biomaterial market.
Bio-SM is made from bio-naphtha, a biologically based raw material. Conventionally, naphtha is extracted from crude oil and has been widely used to produce basic chemical elements such as ethylene and butadiene. By increasing the use of bio-SM, the partners expect to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gas generation, leading to an improvement in carbon footprint.
The companies plan to commence production of biopolymers by 2024.