Cooper has new partner in guayule research

Dec. 20, 2013

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. announced that PanAridus LLC will join the company and its consortium partners in their $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant toward development of guayule plant-based polymers for use in tire manufacturing.

The BRDI is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to promote development and analysis of feed stocks, biofuels and bio-based products.

The consortium partners are researching enhanced manufacturing processes for the production of guayule solid rubber as a biomaterial for tire applications. They also are evaluating the plant’s residual biomass for biofuel applications.

The consortium members aim to harness biopolymers extracted from guayule as a replacement for petroleum-based synthetics and tropical-based natural rubber currently used in the manufacture of tires. If successful, new jobs in the growing and processing of guayule would be created for American workers.

Cooper Tire is leading the overall grant program along with developing all related tire technology.

Cooper says PanAridus replaces Yulex Corporation on the grant team to be the primary manufacturer of the material. PanAridus will take the lead in developing commercial processes to produce guayule natural rubber for the tire industry.

“PanAridus brings significant expertise related to guayule seed and agronomic technology that will be extremely beneficial as the consortium continues progress toward our objectives,” says Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s vice president of global research and development.  

“Their expanding capability to produce guayule based natural rubber will provide a reliable source of materials for our tire technology related programs.”

PanAridus is a bio-agriculture company specializing in the development and production of rubber from the desert shrub guayule. The company is based in Casa Grande, Ariz.

“PanAridus is honored to be part of such an esteemed group of colleagues working towards a goal of providing the first sustainable source of domestically produced natural rubber in our nation's history,” says Mike Fraley, founder and CEO.