This could be big. With the demand for tires expected to increase, Bridgestone Corp. has announced the Bridgestone Group’s plans for an extensive research project in the United States dedicated to developing guayule as a commercially viable, renewable source of high-quality natural rubber and as an alternative to the hevea tree, which is currently the primary source for tire rubber.
Guayule (pronounced why-u-lee) is a perennial shrub native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. This plant produces natural rubber in its bark and roots. Natural rubber from guayule has almost identical qualities compared to natural rubber harvested from hevea trees.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations is currently seeking land to establish the pilot farm and construct the rubber process research center in the southwestern U.S. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2014. Trial rubber production should start in 2015.