Cooper produces and successfully tests industry’s first all-guayule tyres
Cooper Tire and Rubber Company produces and road tests concept passenger tires in which all natural and synthetic rubber is replaced with guayule rubber. Guayule, a shrub grown primarily in the southwestern United States, contains rubber that can be processed for use in tyres. Cooper Tire and its consortium partners, including Clemson University, Cornell University, PanAridus and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS), announced the completion of a five-year, $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant recently. The grant team studied the feasibility of using guayule in tires versus Hevea natural rubber, which is used by the industry today and is sourced primarily from Southeast Asia.
“Cooper built more than 450 tires, replacing various tyre components made with Hevea and synthetic rubber with those made with guayule and testing each for overall performance. We created the industry’s first all-guayule concept tyres and with them conducted rigorous lab and road tests that provide verifiable performance results. Cooper could use guayule rubber in tyre production, if enough material was available to meet our production needs at a competitive price. 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 tyre industry,” said Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s Senior Vice President of Global Research & Development.
A report on the grant was recently presented at the public-private sector consortium’s wrap-up meeting held at the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center near San Antonio. Cooper Tire, working as the lead entity in the consortium, announced at the meeting that its scientists produced several sets of concept passenger car tires in which all the natural and synthetic rubber is replaced by guayule natural rubber.
“The 100-percent guayule-based concept tyres underwent extensive evaluation by Cooper’s technical team, including rigorous wheel and road tests, and were found to have overall performance at least equal to tires made with Hevea and synthetic rubber. Notably, the tyres performed significantly better in rolling resistance, wet handling and wet braking than their conventional counterparts,” the company said.