PEARSALL, Texas—A recent ride-and-drive in Texas demonstrated the value of natural rubber derived from the desert shrub guayule as a component in tires, according to Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and PanAridus L.L.C.
The ride-and-drive took place Aug. 18-19 at Cooper's Vehicle Test Center in Pearsall, according to Cooper. The event was part of the annual meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) from which Cooper received a $6.9 million research and development grant in 2012.
For the first time, the tire maker said, experimental tires with multiple components containing 100 percent guayule rubber from PanAridus were run in a blind test against conventional Cooper mass-production tires. Cooper didn't specify which components were made entirely from guayule rubber.
“The testers had the opportunity to experience these tires against standard tires,” a Cooper spokeswoman said.
“The result was performance that was comparable—no difference in performance,” she said.
This is a major victory for BRDI, whose goal is to develop guayule as a domestic source of natural rubber for the tire industry, she said.
The tires tested at Pearsall represent the third build of prototype tires that have contained guayule rubber, according to Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper senior vice president of global research and development.
Cooper's goal by the first half of 2017—the year Cooper completes its work under the BRDI grant—is to build a tire that is 100 percent guayule rubber in all components, he said.