Bridgestone Corporation reports it has developed a new technology for improving the rubber productivity of guayule plants. It worked on this technology in a joint development project with Kirin Holdings Company, Limited, a company perhaps better known for beer and other beverages.
The dream of securing natural rubber supplies in the vicinity of production facilities and reducing dependency upon hevea rubber plantations has preoccupied Bridgestone Corporation for the past decade. Early in 2018 it announced a collaboration with genomic big data company NRGene to advance the commercialisation of guayule, and today Bridgestone shared the results of this four-year project. The combined effort has resulted in the partners successfully assembling a specific guayule genome.
Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) and NRGene, a genomic big data solutions company, are collaborating on research efforts to enhance the company’s US alternative domestic natural rubber breeding programme. They will be working in tandem to sequence and assemble multiple genomes of guayule, a rubber-producing plant indigenous to the hot, dry environments of the Southwestern United States and North Central Mexico, to develop new, high-yielding varieties. The first-ever, two guayule genomes have already been sequenced and completely assembled and a physical and genetic map are being developed which will provide a high level of accuracy and efficiency for breeding improvement.
Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) and Versalis are forming a strategic partnership to develop and deploy “a comprehensive technology package to commercialize guayule in the agricultural, sustainable-rubber and renewable-chemical sectors.”
The University of Arizona has received a five-year grant of up to $15 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to lead a new centre focusing on the mass production of biofuels and bioproducts in the Southwestern US.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and its consortium partners have completed their five-year research project into the potential of guayule rubber as a replacement for Hevea natural rubber in tyres. A report on their work was recently presented at the public-private sector consortium’s wrap-up meeting held at the Cooper Tire & Vehicle Test Center near San Antonio, USA.
Scientists working on Cooper Tire & Rubber’s guayule rubber project have reportedly reached a key milestone on the path to producing, by mid-2017, a concept tyre in which guayule-based polymers replace all natural and synthetic rubbers. Their testing has shown guayule to be an effective substitute material in certain components, with tyres produced using these components offering comparative performance to their conventional counterparts.
Tests of Pirelli ultra high performance tyres containing natural rubber sourced from guayule plants have taken place at the Circuito di Balocco track in Italy and at Pirelli’s own circuit in Vizzola, near Milan. The manufacturer says that extreme usage simulations showed comparable performance between these tyres and equivalent tyres produced using oil-derived synthetic polymers.
Around three and a half years ago, Bridgestone Corporation announced plans to develop the guayule plant into a commercially viable alternative to traditional sources of natural rubber. The company produced its first guayule-sourced natural rubber samples a year ago, and today shares it has reached another milestone on the path to guayule commercialisation – Bridgestone says it has produced passenger car tyres whose natural rubber content is 100 per cent sourced from the desert shrub.
The research Bridgestone has conducted on the use of guayule-derived natural rubber in tyre production was recognised at the 2015 Edison Award Winners event on 23 April. The tyre maker went home with a 2015 Edison Gold Award for Innovation in Automotive Solutions.
Cooper Tire & Rubber is now evaluating the first tyres it has built using rubber derived from guayule plants, and says that to-date the wheel, road and track tests suggest tyre performance that is at least equal to tyres manufactured using traditional Hevea-sourced rubber. The tyre maker reported this development to its consortium partners – PanAridus, Arizona State University, Cornell University, and the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) – at the group’s recent meeting for its third annual meeting and progress report on their US$6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant, ‘Securing the Future of Natural Rubber—An American Tire and Bioenergy Platform from Guayule.’
US-based bioscience company PanAridus recently announced granting of its ninth US Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant variety patent and the first tyre quality, bale-sized shipment of its guayule-derived biorubber. The announcement was made by company CEO Mike Fraley at the recent International Tyre Exhibition and Conference in Akron.
The ribbon was cut on Bridgestone Americas’ brand new Biorubber Process Research Center on the morning of 22 September, and with the official opening of this Mesa, Arizona-based 10 acre (4 hectare) research and innovation centre, the company moves a further step forward in its efforts to extract natural rubber from guayule.
Yulex Corporation is opening a Seed & Genetics Center focused the development of guayule plantations and best practice for all kinds of applications. According to the company, Yulex’s Seed & Genetics Center will support the global commercial development of guayule. Additional research activities at the Center involve the refinement of sustainable production techniques designed to improve guayule’s rubber yield and quality through natural processes, with a focus on soil management and natural crop production inputs.
Just after the summer of 2013 PanAridus reported that it had broke an industry milestone, becoming the first bio-agricultural company to produce sufficient quality and quantity of guayule rubber samples in-house for commercial testing and use.