The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Bridgestone a research grant, after the tire company has spent more than a decade researching the desert shrub called guayule that promises to be a possible new source of natural rubber. The company claims the plant has drought-resistant qualities and can be a sustainable alternative to current rubber tree crops that traditionally require a more tropical climate.
“Guayule shows tremendous potential for advancing the biodiversity of natural rubber sourcing and introducing alternatives to existing crops in water-starved areas such as America’s desert southwest,” said William Niaura, Director of Sustainable Materials and Circular Economy, Bridgestone Americas. “This grant will accelerate our efforts to create a sustainable model for growing and harvesting guayule at scale, which we are aiming to achieve by the end of the decade.”
Conveniently, Bridgestone’s research is located in “America’s desert southwest” already, namely in California, New Mexico, and Mesa, Arizona, with a farm in Eloy, Arizona as well. The company has invested over $100 million in guayule farming and processing research since 2012. Testing will now continue in the field at Bridgestone’s research centers in the U.S. and Italy, and 200 more acres of guayule will go into the ground this year.
The DOE Joint Genome Institute’s research grant plans to focus on three guayule varieties, which will get their genes sequenced and mapped, and then ultimately altered to optimize the potential rubber yield from the plant.
The guayule shrub requires more processing than traditional rubber trees, which makes it more costly to commercialize. Research to increase the yield from the process will hopefully help bring those costs down, as Bridgestone suggests, by the end of the decade.
There’s potential for the new guayule plant to help sustain farms that may have had their previous crops struggle from water shortages. Bridgestone says it’s the direct result of its work with the (non-government) Environmental Defense Fund in developing drought solutions for a region of Arizona that is irrigated by the Colorado River.
Bridgestone has already shown a proof of concept, developing and producing a tire made from guayule-sourced rubber back in 2015, but production costs remain prohibitive. The company’s goals are to make tires from 100 percent renewable materials by 2050, and to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50 percent from 2011 levels by 2030.
2023 Ford F-150 Rattler First Look: Off-Road Goods for Cheap
$2.3 Million in Stolen Cars Discovered at California Weed Growing Operation
2023 Mazda CX-50 First Drive: An Extra-Sporty SUV
Toyota Drops GR-Something Teaser, It’s Probably the Hotter Corolla
BMW 3 Series EV Leaked Pictures Preview a Facelift For the Normal 3
Source: Read Full Article