Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and others have completed a five-year, $6.9 million study of replacing Asian rubber now used in tires with rubber from a southwestern U.S. desert shrub, Cooper reports.
The research was funded by a federal grant.
Cooper Tire scientists have produced several sets of concept passenger car tires in which all the natural and synthetic rubber is replaced by guayule (pronounced why-YOU-lee) natural rubber.
The grant team studied the practicality of using guayule in tires.
Cooper Tire’s partners in the research included Clemson University, Cornell University, PanAridus and the Agricultural Research Service.
“Notably, the tires performed significantly better in rolling resistance, wet handling and wet braking than their conventional counterparts” in tests, Cooper Tire reported.
“We created the industry’s first all-guayule concept tires and with them conducted rigorous lab and road tests that provide verifiable performance results,” said Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s senior vice president of global research and development.
“Based on our findings, Cooper could use guayule rubber in tire production tomorrow if enough material was available to meet our production needs at a competitive price,” Yurkovich said.
“To make this happen, the combined effort of government, agriculture and industry is needed to grow the plants and create large-scale manufacturing operations to produce the rubber for use in the tire industry.”