Bridgestone will be exploring a natural, domestic source for rubber production at its new Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa, Arizona.
The 10-acre campus will extract natural rubber from the guayule, a shrub native to the Southwestern U.S. Currently, 90% of the world’s natural rubber supply comes from hevea rubber trees grown in Southeast Asia.
The rubber produced from the guayule shrub has qualities similar to that produced from hevea rubber trees, making it a potentially viable source for tire-grade rubber in commercial applications. The research center expects to produce preliminary guayule rubber samples within the next month.
Bridgestone is using this new research center to move closer to achieving its long-term vision of manufacturing products from raw materials that are fully renewable and sustainable by 2050.
The research center will have 30 researchers and technicians at its 8,300-square-foot office and laboratory. The campus will also include a 3,500-square-foot shrub prep building, a 5,500-square-foot process building for rubber extraction, co-product and solvent recycling and a 3,100-square-foot mechanical and electrical building.
The rubber will be produced from guayule grown on a 281-acre Agro Operations Research farm in nearby Eloy, Arizona. The site will include two greenhouses, a storage building and a main research and laboratory building.