PITTSBURGH (Nov. 24, 2016) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Ford Motor Co. are at the forefront of manufacturers researching potential commercial uses for rubber from the desert shrub guayule, speakers from both companies said at the recent International Elastomer Conference in Pittsburgh.
Zachary Walters, an engineer in the Innovative Technology Department of Cooper's Global Technical Center, spoke of Cooper's continuing research into the use of guayule rubber in tires.
“Guayule can completely replace Hevea and synthetic rubber in most tire areas,” he said, though he added that the impact of strain-induced crystallization in the bead and sidewall areas still is being studied.
Cooper is the leader of the five-year, $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) funded by the departments of Agriculture and Energy. The goal of the BRDI is to assess the feasibility of guayule rubber as an ingredient in commercially produced tires.