Company initiatives

Bio-rubber developments

Last post before I start tweeting at the Roquette Green Chemistry Symposium this afternoon (I do hope the place has a wifi!)

There had been several announcements in the past two weeks regarding bio-rubber developments and the blog might as well put them in a separate post.

This is the first time that I’ve heard about California-based Kultevat LLC, a crop technology company specializing in Russian dandelions (Taraxacum koksaghyz or TKS). The company said it is ready to go head-to-head against guayule rubber after five years of building its operations and growing its TKS acreage in 12 states.

Kultevat plans to have a full-scale production of rubber and sugar syrup from TKS in the US and abroad by 2016. The company is in the midst of raising $5m from individual investors and plans more fund-raising drive in the future.

On April, Kultevat said it has partnered with a Netherlands biotech company KeyGene N.V. to collaborate on the production of rubber from TKS. KeyGene will be responsible for developing new varieties of dandelions while Kultevat will focus on production practices and large scale latex extraction and rubber production in North America.

The company is also planning to move in June to a new headquarters at the Helix Center in St. Louis from its present facility in Carlsbad. By the way, some of Kultevat’s management team including founder and current CEO Daniel Swiger were former employees of guayule crop producer Yulex.

Yulex, on the other hand, recently announced that it has partnered with the University of Arizona by providing the institution $3m grant for a five-year R&D focusing on breeding and agronomic development of guayule for biorubber production.

Yulex and the University of Arizona will apply classical breeding along with modern tools for marker assisted breeding to guayule lines to select traits for the crop improvement program. Guayule expert Dr. Dennis Ray from the University of Arizona will lead the effort to produce a higher yielding rubber crop and to substantially decrease Guayule’s harvest cycle time.

Photo source: Bridgestone Americas

Photo source: Bridgestone Americas

Speaking of guayule, Bridgestone Americas recently had a groundbreaking of its Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa, Arizona, to investigate the use of guayule plant as an alternative natural rubber source. The first rubber samples for tire evaluations are expected at the 10-acre site in mid-2015.

Bridgestone, by the way, is also working on Russian dandelion at its laboratories in Akron, Ohio, and Tokyo, Japan, since last year. The company plans a larger scale testing in 2014.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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