HILTON HEAD, S.C.—An alternative, sustainable domestic source of natural rubber may be as little as a decade away, thanks to intensive research by Bridgestone Americas Inc., a Bridgestone Americas executive said at the 31st annual Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference.
Bill Niaura, Bridgestone Americas director of new business development, spoke at the conference held April 15-17 at Hilton Head, updating the audience on his company's efforts to commercialize guayule, a desert shrub native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S.
“Developing guayule on a commercial basis is a huge challenge,” Niaura said. “There is no existing U.S. natural rubber industry. We are starting on that journey, and there are technical challenges that need to be addressed.”
Bridgestone Americas dedicated the Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa, Ariz., last September, about a year after it opened its Agro Operation Guayule Research Farm in Eloy, Ariz. The farm provides rubber for the pilot guayule processing plant at the research center, with pilot-scale guayule rubber production planned for this year.