Guayule (pronounced Why-u-lee) is a perennial shrub native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. This plant produces natural rubber in its bark and roots. Natural rubber from Guayule has almost identical qualities compared to natural rubber harvested from Hevea trees, which is currently the primary source for the natural rubber used in tires.
Bridgestone is providing the funding and strategic input for the effort, and Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations will find a suitable location for and operate the pilot farm and process research facility.
BATO is seeking land to establish the pilot farm and construct the rubber process research center in the southwestern U.S. Research and development will be conducted by a team of agricultural scientists, engineers and process technicians focused on optimizing the agronomic and processing technologies necessary to produce world-class, tire-grade rubber in adequate quantities appropriate for manufacturing.
The company expects to finalize a location, establish the research farm and begin construction on the process research center in late 2012. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2014, and trial rubber production should start in 2015.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Yulex Corp. also recently announced Guayule research, development and testing.