NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone Americas Inc. has won a 2015 Edison Gold Award for Innovation in Automotive Solutions for its research toward making the desert shrub guayule into a viable commercial source of natural rubber for tires, the company announced.
“The work we are doing at our Biorubber Process Research Center in Arizona is important to diversifying the world's natural rubber supply and identifying sustainable and renewable resources,” said Bill Niaura, Bridgestone Americas director of new business development, in an April 27 press release.
Guayule is a woody shrub native to Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. Over the past hundred years, there have been several attempts to grow it as a cash crop and process it for its high-quality rubber latex.
Bridgestone Americas opened its Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa, Ariz., in September 2014, a few months after it began operations at its Agro Operations Research Farm in Eloy, Ariz. The tire maker is concentrating on making pilot batches of tire-grade guayule rubber this year, with plans for commercial production sometime in the 2020s.
Niaura spoke at the 31st annual Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference at Hilton Head, S.C., in mid-April, updating the audience on the progress of Bridgestone's guayule commercialization plans.
The Edison Awards are given annually by Edison Universe, an organization dedicated to recognizing technical innovations that create a positive impact in the world, Bridgestone Americas said. More than 3,000 professionals representing the fields of product design, engineering, science, marketing and education select the winners, it said.