NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone Americas Inc. is forming a strategic partnership with Italian polymer and elastomer giant Versalis S.p.A. to to develop and use a comprehensive technology package to commercialize guayule in the agricultural, sustainable rubber and renewable chemical sectors.
The partnership combines Bridgestone's leadership in guayule agricultural and production technologies with Versalis' expertise in commercial-scale process engineering and market development for renewables, Bridgestone said in a Feb. 12 press release.
This partnership brings together the two largest global guayule research projects under common management, the tire maker said.
Under this agreement, Bridgestone and Versalis will work together toward a common goal of creating a commercially sound technology package for guayule, according to the press release.
The two companies will also make their joint technology available to industrial partners willing to cooperate in maximizing the value of guayule products, it said.
Bridgestone and Versalis will focus on developing proprietary, highly productive varieties of guayule using the latest genetic technologies, according to Bridgestone.
"The associated growing protocols developed in line with this agreement may position guayule as an attractive and profitable coup for independent growers in appropriate regions," the tire maker said.
The Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa, Ariz., which Bridgestone dedicated in September 2014, will be the place of optimization for guayule process technologies, the press release said.
Versalis, for its part, will lead product development for both guayule rubber and non-rubber components, the release said. Resin research will include market applications for adhesives and wood protection, whereas bagasse is being developed as a feedstock for industrial sugars suitable for biofuels and chemical precursors, it said.
"Bridgestone is moving closer to its long-term environmental goal of developing a new, domestic and commercially viable source for natural rubber," the tire maker said. "This agreement is a significant milestone in Bridgestone's journey to develop a new and domestic source of natural rubber."