Akron–Commercialized guayule rubber for tires is moving at warp speed, said PanAridus CEO, Mike Fraley, as he announced the company’s ninth USDA Plant Variety Patent and the first tire quality, bale-sized shipment of the biorubber at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference today in front of a collection of executives from some of the world’s largest tire companies. These companies, which consume 65 to 70 percent of global rubber production, are especially interested in the natural rubber polymer extracted from the native Sonoran Desert guayule plant because currently the United States and other non-tropical nations must import 100% of their supply and are facing a host of uncertainties in obtaining sufficient quantities to meet their customers’ needs.
“By continuing to diversify our plant varieties, we’re overcome yet another obstacle in the 100-year quest to find a sustainable and domestically produced source of natural rubber. We’ve made guayule more adaptable to different soils and conditions which should give the tire industry more confidence than ever that we’ve reached the age in which a domestically produced source of natural rubber can be sustainably grown over predictable periods of time.” Fraley took the warp speed analogy one step further as he compared the gram-sized samples of guayule rubber he offered at the same conference two years ago to the shipments by truck the company produced for Cooper Tire as part of the $7 million USDA BRDI grant today. “We’re filling orders as fast as we can now because we’ve satisfied the main concerns the tire industry previously had incorporating guayule into the manufacturing process. They’ve had their own scientists prove independently of our findings that our rubber exceeds their high standards and we can produce it in a measurable and timely fashion,” he said. The Casa Grande based company owns the most guayule plant patents in the world and was the first to offer certified guayule crop seed. “Like the Starship Enterprise, we’re already taking guayule to places no one has gone before,” Fraley said.