Liquid rubber made from sugar cane

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Kuraray has developed a bio-based Liquid Farnesene Rubber (L-FR), offering co-cross-linking, improved grip and greater sustainability in rubber formulations.

L-FR is synthesized sustainably from beta-farnesene derived from renewable resources such as sugar cane. Adding L-FR to the compound improves the performance and lifetime of tires. The new material keeps its elasticity, especially at lower temperatures, and provides optimal adhesion on snowy and icy roads. Tire manufacturers also benefit from faster cross-linking and lower viscosity, resulting in a more efficient production process.

The material can replace conventional liquid rubbers in a wide range of tire manufacturing applications. Using established fermentation processes, proprietary yeast strains convert sugar sources such as sugar cane into beta-farnesene. L-FR is synthesized from the basic monomer by polymerization.

The special structure of highly branched molecular chains reduces entanglements and results in lower viscosity compared to liquid isoprene rubbers. Due to its high molecular weight, L-FR co-cross-links during the vulcanization process. There is a significant reduction in ‘bleeding’ of the low-molecular components to the outside surface, which occurs with conventional plasticizers – resulting in permanently high elasticity and constant properties over the entire lifetime of the tire.

In addition, tire manufacturers benefit from the fast cross-linking of L-FR. Its good co-reactivity ensures fast vulcanization. This allows shorter processing cycles, reduced energy consumption and higher processing rates.

“Adding our newly developed bio-based L-FR gives rubber compounds low viscosity and they remain elastic after vulcanization, even at low temperatures,” explains Kuraray’s Ralph Böhm, senior manager, elastomer sales. “With its unique structure, L-FR offers an optimum performance balance in treads, especially in terms of grip on snow and ice.”

“With its unique properties, L-FR enables the development of tires that reduce the fuel consumption of vehicles, generate less heat and stop vehicles safely, even on icy surfaces,” adds Marcel Gründken, market development and technical service manager at Kuraray. “Manufactured from renewable resources and easy to process, the material increases efficiency and sustainability in tire production.”

Kuraray will present its range of new liquid rubber grades at Tire Technology Expo 2020, with a special focus on its bio-based L-FR.

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the ground-breaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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