Bridgestone Group is to conduct research dedicated to developing the guayule shrub as a commercially viable, renewable source of high-quality natural rubber for the company’s tires.
If successful, guayule (pictured), pronounced “why-u-lee,” would become an alternative source of rubber to the hevea tree.
Natural rubber from the bark and roots of guayule has almost identical qualities to rubber harvested from hevea trees, which is currently the primary source for the natural rubber used in tires, Bridgestone says.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations is seeking land on which to conduct the project. The company expects to finalize a location, establish the research farm and begin construction on the process research center later in 2012. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2014. Trial rubber production should start in 2015.
Bridgestone expects demand for tires to increase in the near-to-long-term. The group is also working to develop tires using 100 percent sustainable materials.
In September, Bridgestone announced that it had received ISO:14001 certification for all of its European tire plants.