WOOSTER, Ohio—EnergyEne Inc. is getting hands-on in the development of guayule as an alternative to natural rubber with a radiation attenuation glove that doesn't trigger latex allergies and has better polymer-filler interaction, according to CEO Katrina Cornish.
The company, incorporated in 2013, is focused on high-performance latex products, beginning with the latex glove, which debuted at the International Latex Conference in Fairlawn, Ohio, last year. Cornish said EnergyEne currently is in due diligence for investment, and is in discussions to secure a larger acreage of existing guayule. No further details were shared about either development.
In addition to not being an allergy-causing latex, guayule is a linear polymer, as opposed to Hevea's branch polymer, a difference that changes how they interact in compounds, she said.
"The linear polymer allows you to get much better polymer-filler interaction with guayule composites than you get with Hevea composites," Cornish said. "Along with it being softer and more elastic than other polymers, it's got a lot more room in it for filler, and is able to maintain medical glove performance and reach attenuation standards."
Since radiation attenuation fillers are diluent fillers, not reinforcing fillers, other compounds can only take on so much capacity before falling below medical glove standards. Current Hevea-based gloves require two layers, restricting movement. Guayule has much more room to work with, which allows them to reach medical standards with a single pair of gloves, she said.
As a product, the gloves are meant to help build the young business, as the standard personal protective equipment gloves can sell for between $45-$55, and at current attenuation levels, require double-gloving, she said.
"It's a relatively small, high-margin, niche product," she said. "If we could sell for $55-$60 when our raw material is only $1.50-$2, there's a lot of room in there to fund a small-scale crop and a small-scale business."
EnergyEne is busy working on other prototypes for guayule products where it can improve the performance over what's currently in the market, such as lineman's gloves, weather balloons and condoms, she said.