Michelin's BioButterfly: Pioneering Butadiene Triump

MichelinImage Source: Michelin


Michelin, IFPEN, and Axens inaugurate France's first large-scale bio-based butadiene plant, a pivotal stride in the BioButterfly project. Supported by ADEME, the initiative aims to replace petrochemical-derived butadiene with ethanol from biomass, marking a significant leap toward sustainable synthetic elastomers. The industrial-scale demonstrator, operational since July 2023, underscores Michelin's commitment to 100% renewable or recycled materials in tires by 2050.


In a groundbreaking move, Michelin, IFPEN, and Axens have celebrated the inauguration of France's inaugural industrial-scale bio-based butadiene plant. Located at Michelin's Bassens site near Bordeaux, this achievement is a vital aspect of the BioButterfly project, championed by the three partners and supported by ADEME. The overarching goal is to revolutionize the synthetic elastomer industry by transitioning from petrochemical-based butadiene to an ethanol-derived, biomass-centric approach.

Butadiene, a crucial chemical intermediate with diverse applications, sees 40% dedicated to tire elastomers. The remaining 60% contributes to the production of various materials, such as varnish, resin, ABS plastic, nylon, textiles, and construction materials. The industrial-scale demonstrator, operational since July 2023, is a testament to the partners' dedication to validating the manufacturing process of bio-based butadiene, showcasing both technological and economic viability.

This phase of the BioButterfly project is a stepping stone toward global commercialization, facilitating the production of innovative synthetic rubbers without reliance on fossil-based resources. With a production capacity of 20 to 30 metric tons per year, this scale ensures swift industrial development. Axens' role in commercializing this technology holds pivotal importance, ensuring substantial volumes of renewable butadiene.

The collaborative efforts of Michelin, IFPEN, and Axens underscore a renewed commitment to fostering a French bio-based synthetic elastomer sector. This initiative aligns with Michelin's broader objectives of achieving circularity and using 100% renewable or recycled materials in tires by 2050. The partners aim to contribute to a more sustainable industry, addressing future challenges such as renewable materials alongside recycling.

Catherine Rivière, Assistant General Manager at IFP Energies Nouvelles, emphasizes the BioButterfly project's importance, highlighting over a decade of research and innovation. This commitment reflects their responsiveness to manufacturers and societal expectations in the realm of bio-based chemistry. Axens' CEO, Jean Sentenac, reinforces their dedication to manufacturers seeking bio-based solutions, foreseeing a future where bio-based butadiene becomes a reality for industries seeking renewable materials. Michelin's collaboration with partners extends beyond technological advancements, aiming to construct virtuous ecosystems and foster synergy across the value chain. The ambition is to operate, finance, and amplify renewable butadiene production globally, meeting the escalating demand for sustainable and bio-based finished goods.

With a total investment exceeding €80 million in the BioButterfly project, supported by ADEME, the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, and the Bordeaux Urban Community, it has already generated employment at Michelin's Bassens site. This milestone represents a transformative leap toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly future for synthetic elastomers.


The inauguration of France's first industrial-scale bio-based butadiene plant marks a significant achievement for Michelin, IFPEN, and Axens in the BioButterfly project. Operating since July 2023, this demonstrator validates the manufacturing process's technological and economic viability, propelling the transition from petrochemical-based to ethanol-derived, biomass-centric butadiene.

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