Amyris, Kuraray expand collaboration in farnesene-based polymers
Amyris Inc. and Kuraray Co. Ltd., a pioneering global chemical products company with a long history of commercializing a range of resins, fibers, textiles and other materials, have announced the expansion and extension of their ongoing collaboration in high performance polymers using Biofene, Amyris's brand of renewable farnesene.
"Kuraray has been a strong collaboration partner over the last two years, and I welcome our expanding work together in developing and commercializing high performance materials from Biofene," said John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris. "Based on the positive feedback from tire manufacturers for Liquid Farnesene Rubber, we remain confident that Biofene will play a critical role in improving the sustainability of the tire industry. We are also encouraged that with Kuraray in Japan we are launching a new category of elastomers made from Biofene," added Melo.
Under the transaction agreements, the parties have extended the duration of the research and development portion of their collaboration for at least two more years. The parties also reaffirmed their commercialization goals by expanding types of, and fields of use for, Kuraray polymer products containing Biofene. As detailed in the agreement, Amyris will receive an undisclosed amount of collaboration funding over the next two years, and Kuraray will purchase approximately $4 million of Amyris's common stock in April of this year.
"Our joint technical progress in the last two years has been tremendous, and we are optimistic about the commercialization of farnesene-based polymers with Amyris in the near future and our expanded ongoing collaboration to new polymer products, including viscosity index improvers, sealants, and adhesives," said Tomoyuki Aya, senior executive officer of Kuraray. "And, as Amyris shares our commitment to develop pioneering technology, I'm pleased that Kuraray has agreed to make a capital investment in Amyris," Aya added.
Amyris and Kuraray launched their collaboration in 2011 with an initial focus on using Biofene-based polymers to replace petroleum-derived feedstocks in tires. During this time, Kuraray has developed Biofene-based liquid rubber (LFR) that reacts with tire rubber more easily than traditional materials and strengthens adhesion of rubber components to improve tire shape, stability, and performance. Today, leading tire manufacturers are conducting field, safety and performance tests of Kuraray's Biofene-based liquid rubber in their tire formulations with a number of these tests nearing conclusion. Also, during this period, Kuraray produced and began customer sampling and product evaluation for a new category of elastomers, Hydrogenated Styrenic Farnesene Copolymer (HSFC), which have shown to have improved flow properties and low residual strain, opening opportunities for vibration dampening product applications.