PanAridus: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

5-Minute-Guide-logoPanAridus was launched in 2010 with a goal to improve the genetics of the guayule (why-you-lee) seed through the biosciences of genetics and selective breeding to the point that it would be profitable for farmers to grow, which has been the primary drawback to growing an alternative source of domestic natural rubber.

PanAridus has worked to uncover means for growing a higher yield of domestically grown guayule rubber per acre than from imported Hevea rubber, and even more inexpensively than synthetic rubber. Its advanced seed varieties ensure a supply of guayule rubber for applications, and their agronomic techniques give farmers a more certain and profitable crop.

“Our advanced seed varieties ensure a supply of guayule rubber for applications (like tires), and our agronomic techniques give farmers a more certain and profitable crop,” the company said, adding that “By expanding our fields under cultivation and by using our extensive research to make this drought tolerant plant profitable for farmers to grow in arid regions around the globe, we can meet the need for this critical commodity in a sustainable way.”

The Situation

In 2013, PanAridus replaced Yulex in a previously-announced $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative grant toward development of guayule plant-based polymers for use in tire manufacturing.

In October 2014, Cooper Tire said it had completed tire builds using rubber derived from guayule plants and new guayule related materials. The tires are being evaluated by Cooper’s technical team using rigorous wheel, road and track tests, which are ongoing, but to date suggest tire performance that is at least equal to tires made of components derived from the Hevea rubber plant. Cooper said that its “ progress in tire technology under the grant has been aided by PanAridus’ success in manufacturing rubber using improved strains of guayule and deploying superior rubber extraction technology. Cooper, PanAridus and USDAARS have worked closely to identify key variables impacting rubber quality and controlling these factors during the rubber manufacturing process, resulting in compounds with properties that behave more like Hevea natural rubber than guayule isolated from other processes.”

Top Past Milestones 

In April 2014, PanAridus company announced the United States Department of Agriculture Plant Variety Protection Office has granted the company eight new Plant Variety Patents, certifying the company has invented and reproduced eight new strains of the guayule shrub.   Guayule, a native Sonoran Desert plant, has been viewed as a promising natural rubber alternative to the Hevea (rubber) tree because they yield almost identical polymers, which can be utilized for tires, tubes, medical devices and gloves among other products; however, the industry has struggled for decades trying to unlock the genetic secrets to producing higher and annual yields to make it profitable for farmers to grow and offset the demand-induced global shortfall by the end of the decade.

In February 2014, the company noted that it had tripled the size of its research and extraction departments since the beginning of the year, bringing significantly increased capabilities for extracting high grade natural rubber from their proprietary strains of guayule.

PanAridus said it has cut the time it takes to grow the guayule bush in half, making it possible for the crop to be harvested on an annual yield, a critical milestone so that farmers can profit by growing this drought-tolerant plant.

In the fall of 2012, PanAridus became the first company in the guayule industry to publicly offer to sell samples of our patented guayule to any tire company that wanted an alternative to tropically grown Hevea rubber in order to meet growing domestic and global needs. Within months, three of the five top tire manufacturers in the world independently verified PanAridus’ guayule as an excellent polymer for tire manufacturing. “We followed that up in 2013 by becoming the first company to produce sufficient high-grade quantities of guayule rubber samples in-house for commercial testing and use,” the company said.

Major Milestone Goals

“Our objective is to have the agricultural acreage and extraction facility operational in early 2016 that will not only produce large quantities of guayule rubber but also co-products for industry,” the company says.

Business Model

Technology Materials Supplier

Competitive Edge

PanAridus’ competitive edge is that “we are the genetic and agricultural experts in guayule production as well as the only one-stop shop for guayule in the world. We recognize with a changing climate and a growing population, the world needs to be able to grow crops more sustainably. Our drought-tolerant guayule uses about half the water of more traditional crops like cotton or alfalfa and addresses a key domestic need, as rubber is the United States second largest commodity import. With a several million ton shortfall of natural rubber expected by the end of the decade, guayule can complement existing tropical rubber supplies around the world.”

The company adds that “We were the first (and still only) to certify our seeds with Arizona Crop Improvement Association and the first to certify our acreage. When we became the first to offer samples of our guayule rubber on the open market, tire companies returned a positive verdict, citing our natural rubber as a polymer on par with one of their highest grades (TSR-10).”

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