Bridgestone breaks ground on new biorubber center
Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSA) broke ground on its Biorubber Process Research Center, a research and development project in Mesa, Arizona, to investigate the use of the Guayule plant as an alternative natural rubber source.
Once completed, the center will be home to a staff of 40 researchers and technicians. The 10 acre site will include an 8,400 sq.ft. office/lab building, a four-platform, 3,500 sq.ft. shrub prep building and a 3,100 sq.ft. mechanical and electrical building. The first rubber samples for tire evaluations are expected in mid-2015.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, a BSA subsidiary, is executing the project in collaboration with Bridgestone Corporation. Bridgestone Corporation is providing the funding and strategic insights for the project, while the Bridgestone Americas team is responsible for operating the pilot farm and process research facility. The Bridgestone Americas team also will leverage the resources of its Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology and Bridgestone’s Americas Technical Center to provide technical and research expertise.
Guayule is a perennial shrub native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The plant produces natural rubber in its bark and roots. Natural rubber from Guayule has almost identical qualities to that harvested from the Hevea tree, which currently is the primary source for the natural rubber used in tire production.