FINDLAY, Ohio—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and its consortium partners have completed their five-year, $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative grant on guayule rubber.
Cooper scientists—working with Clemson University, Cornell University, PanAridus and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—produced several sets of concept passenger car tires in which all the natural and synthetic rubber is replaced by guayule natural rubber.
Guayule is a shrub grown primarily in the Southwestern U.S. containing rubber that can be processed for use in tires. The grant team studied the feasibility of using guayule in tires verses Hevea natural rubber used in the industry today and sourced primarily from Southeast Asia.
Cooper said it built more than 450 tires replacing Hevea and synthetic rubber with guayule and tested each for overall performance. Through this process, the firm created what it claimed is the industry's first all-guayule concept tires and conducted rigorous lab and road tests that provided verifiable performance results.
"Based on our findings, Cooper could use guayule rubber in tire production tomorrow if enough material was available to meet our production needs at a competitive price," Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper's senior vice president of global research and development, said in a statement. "To make this happen, the combined effort of government, agriculture and industry is needed to grow the plants and create large-scale manufacturing operations to produce the rubber for use in the tire industry."