A number of people from the SBAR research and operations team at the University of Arizona, along with future partners at the UA’s College of Agriculture visited the Bridgestone Agro Operations Guayule Farm in Eloy and the Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa this week. The group included: Jacqueline Bruhn, Program Coordinator for SBAR; José Carvalho de Souza Dias, Assistant Specialist in Weed Science in the School of Plant Sciences and with SBAR; Matthew Jenks, Director and Professor, School of Plant Sciences; and Alex Strong, Director of Development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
SBAR partners at Bridgestone Americas provided an overview of operations at the guayule farm with a close look at research dedicated to increasing rubber content and plant breeding. After an overview presentation about the importance of natural rubber, the group toured labs, greenhouses, fields, and the machine shop – all while maintaining a hearty discussion about guayule.
The guayule farm tour was followed by a tour by the same group of the Bridgestone small-scale processing facility in Mesa, Arizona. This tour was a walk-through of all the processing stages to get the plant from raw feedstock to rubber. The group discussed the requirements for all aspects of the guayule biorefining process, including rubber extraction and coproducts.