FINDLAY, Ohio, Dec. 20, 2013 – Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced today that PanAridus will join the company and its consortium partners on a previously-announced $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant toward development of guayule plant-based polymers for use in tire manufacturing. The BRDI is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to promote development and analysis of feed stocks, biofuels and bio-based products.
Cooper Tire, PanAridus, and other consortium partners, including Arizona State University (ASU) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the USDA, are conducting research efforts aimed at developing enhanced manufacturing processes for the production of guayule solid rubber as a biomaterial for tire applications, as well as evaluating the plant’s residual biomass for biofuel applications. The consortium members aim to harness biopolymers extracted from guayule as a replacement for petroleum-based synthetics and tropical-based natural rubber currently used in the manufacture of tires. If successful, new jobs in the growing and processing of guayule would be created for American workers.
Cooper Tire is leading the overall grant program along with developing all related tire technology. PanAridus replaces Yulex Corporation on the grant team, assuming Yulex’s responsibilities as the primary manufacturer of the material. PanAridus will take the lead in developing commercial processes to produce guayule natural rubber for the tire industry. ARS is leading the genomic and agronomic development of guayule, while ASU is evaluating the sustainability impact these biomaterial and bioenergy industries have on the American Southwest, where guayule is grown.
“We are pleased to have PanAridus join our BRDI grant team,” said Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s Vice President of Global Research and Development. “PanAridus brings significant expertise related to guayule seed and agronomic technology that will be extremely beneficial as the consortium continues progress toward our objectives. Their expanding capability to produce guayule based natural rubber will provide a reliable source of materials for our tire technology related programs. The cooperative spirit and passion for this initiative within PanAridus will be instrumental in development of commercial production processes and continued improvement of tire grade guayule.”
“PanAridus is honored to be part of such an esteemed group of colleagues working towards a goal of providing the first sustainable source of domestically produced natural rubber in our nation’s history,” said Mike Fraley, Founder and CEO of PanAridus. “Our steadfast focus on guayule genetics and agronomics heightens the likelihood of success for our grant partners, all of whom understand the link between competing favorably on a cost basis in the commodity based marketplace and commercialization.”
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is the parent company of a global family of companies that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing, and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. Cooper has joint ventures, affiliates and subsidiaries that also specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. Cooper’s headquarters is in Findlay, Ohio, with manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world.
Combining the biosciences of genetics and selective breeding, PanAridus has unlocked the key to growing a higher yield of domestically grown guayule rubber per acre than from imported Hevea rubber – and even more inexpensively than synthetic rubber, which is made from petroleum. Our advanced seed varieties ensure a supply of guayule rubber for applications (like tires), and our agronomic techniques give farmers a more certain and profitable crop. The company is headquartered in Casa Grande, AZ.