||January 1, 2007
Natural rubber is the largest single volume elastomer in commerce, at 9 million tons sold globally per year. It is a strategic raw material used in thousands of applications, critically in medical devices, personal protective equipment, and specialty industrial applications such as aircraft tires. Over 2500 plant species produce natural rubber. Alternatives to Hevea brasiliensis have the potential to provide economic, social, and strategic benefits to the USA. Guayule latex has recently entered the commercial arena as an alternative natural rubber latex suitable for the manufacture of latex medical products safe for people with Type I IgE-mediated Hevea latex allergies. Produced from Parthenium argentatum, a desert shrub indigenous to North America, re-introduction of guayule provides opportunities for rural development as a significant industrial crop. Here we examine the physical, chemical, and rheological properties of guayule latex and rubber produced in the United States.