Cooper Teams up with Company to Find New Polymers for Tires

February 29, 2012

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Yulex Corp. have signed an agreement to jointly work on developing guayule polymers and resins for tire applications.

Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) , is a flowering shrub native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Cooper will provide advanced polymer and materials science expertise, and use its design, development and testing capabilities as part of this project. Yulex provides experience with the development and production of advanced engineered biopolymers from the guayule plant.

As the global supply for natural rubber continues to decline, there's a need to identify a sustainable, high-quality alternative source of natural rubber. The biopolymers Yulex extracts from the guayule plant are used as a replacement for traditional tropical or petroleum-based rubber. Production of this bio-based material is ecologically responsible and carbon neutral, and the material itself is valued for its physical performance, including increased elasticity, functionality, reliability and strength.

"The agreement between Cooper Tire and Yulex will facilitate development of a domestic source of natural rubber leveraging resources and capabilities of both companies," says Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper's vice president of global technology. "Our goal is to develop a reliable source of natural rubber, significantly decreasing tire industry reliance on foreign sources of raw materials. If successful, the program will create a new agricultural polymer with broad based tire industry applications, convert desert waste land into viable farm land for associated crops, and create jobs for American workers."