Bridgestone Corporation (BSJ) announced that locations for a guayule research farm and associated process research center have been selected.
This project is being accomplished by Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) in collaboration with BSJ. BATO has completed acquisition of a 281-acre agricultural site in Eloy, Ariz., to serve as the base of its agricultural research operation. This research farm will supply guayule for the company’s process research center that is planned for nearby Mesa, Ariz.
“This was an important step in the realization of our guayule research activities, and we are excited to have found a base of operations for our researchers,” said Bill Niaura, Director of New Business Development for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “Every step we take brings us closer to our ultimate goal of developing new, domestic and sustainable sources for natural rubber; we look forward to breaking ground and getting started soon.”
The research farm will include a multi-purpose office/laboratory building, greenhouses and a farming operation that is positioned to optimize guayule as a commercial crop that produces tire-grade rubber and complements the existing agricultural landscape. Groundbreaking is anticipated in the third quarter of 2012.
The process research center, anticipated to be built in nearby Mesa, will be home to a staff of 32 researchers and technicians and to the process that converts the guayule shrub into tire-grade rubber. Groundbreaking for the research center is planned to take place in early 2013. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2014, with trial rubber production starting in 2015.
In March of this year, BSJ 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.
BSJ is providing the funding and strategic input for the effort, while BATO is responsible for selecting the site and operating the pilot farm and process research facility. BATO will also leverage the resources of the Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology and its Akron Technical Center to provide technical and research expertise.
About Bridgestone Europe
Bridgestone Europe (BSEU), with European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, is a key regional subsidiary of Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of tyres and other rubber products. Bridgestone Europe operates an R&D center, 8 plants and offices in more than 30 European countries, with over 13,000 employees. BSEU’s premium tyres are sold both within Europe and globally.