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January 29, 2013

Partnership to produce guayule-based biorubber established

Scott Jenkins

Versalis, a global leader in elastomers and a subsidiary of Eni s.p.A. (Milan, Italy; www.eni.com), and Yulex Corp. (Phoenix, Ariz.; www.yulex.com) an agricultural-based biomaterials company, announced today they are forming a strategic partnership to manufacture guayule-based biorubber materials and will launch an industrial production complex in Southern Europe.

The partnership will cover the entire manufacturing chain from crop science to biorubber extraction to the construction of a biomass power station. Versalis will manufacture materials for various applications: after an initial focus on consumer and medical specialty markets, the target is to optimize the process to reach the tire industry.

The partnership will leverage Yulex's core competencies, including crop science and biorubber extraction technologies, to boost Versalis' bio-based portfolio. The investment will include an ambitious research project to develop technologies targeting the tire industry.

Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) is a renewable, non-food crop that requires little water usage, no pesticides and it is an alternative source of natural rubber because of its latex allergy friendly properties, unlike Hevea rubber.

Versalis, with its market leading position in the elastomer industry, plans to expand its leading-edge technologies in the synthetic rubber business by including guayule rubber as a supplementary business opportunity and an increased commercial offering.

"The partnership with Yulex is strategic to Versalis, considering concerns over the forecasted scarcity in the butadiene market and volatility of this chemical, which in turn causes long term pressure on the price of products like synthetic rubber," said Daniele Ferrari, chief executive officer of Versalis. "Partnering with Yulex represents our commitment and momentum towards entering the global market as a major green chemistry player. All of our green chemistry partnerships aim to enhance Versalis' bio-based portfolio and will feed oil-based production chains with high-performance intermediates from renewable feedstocks, in particular in the elastomers business."

"Versalis is an ideal global partner for Yulex, as they are a leading supplier of elastomers and have the ability to rapidly scale and commercialize processes," said Jeff Martin, chief executive officer, president and co-founder of Yulex Corporation. "Together, through our shared vision of expanding green chemistry,we can accelerate the positive impact that guayule-based biorubber high-value products have on the environment, human health and sustainable global growth."


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