PanAridus, LLC already has nine patents for guayule plants- a plant that yields a polymer nearly identical to natural rubber, and was recently awarded a tenth. Currently guayule plants are the only known source of domestically grown rubber that has been successfully tested in tires, making it attractive to tire manufacturers who must import tropically grown rubber. The newest patent is for a infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) machine that can measure the rubber content of a guayule plant still in the ground.
“Farmers, investors and end users like tire companies are looking to minimize risk and increase certainty as we move towards guayule commercialization. Having the NIRS means we can more rapidly adapt to environmental stressors like soil types and ensure higher and more consistent yields,” said PanAridus CEO, Mike Fraley. “As a result, we can tell farmers which of our nine patented phenotypes to plant.”
With an entirely mechanized process, domestic guayule rubber will have a huge advantage over the traditional Hevea tree rubber (grown mainly in Southeast Asia), which is still tapped by hand and carried to village centers for daily auctions as it was in the 19th century, Fraley said.
PanAridus is the leading guayule company in the world, having broken several glass ceilings in the industry including: allowing car and tire companies to independently test their guayule to ensure it meets industry standards; the only certified guayule crop seed; and the first tire made with multiple guayule components as part of a USDA/USDOE grant consortium with partners Cooper Tire, Clemson University and Cornell University.
“By the time we harvest our first commercial sized crop in 2018, we’ll be the only company in the world selling guayule that can ensure the quality, reliability and profitability for growers and for the tire industry,” Fraley said.