PENRA Development Tracks

Driving Toward Rubber Independence

PENRA research of alternate rubber plants centers on guayule and Taraxacum kok-saghyz and includes assessment of other plants as potential sources of natural rubber. The majority of this research is conducted at the Cornish Lab, located at the Ohio State University’s Wooster campus.

Guayule, a pest and disease resistant plant, grows well in the semi-arid southwestern U.S.  PENRA research is focused on the utilization of guayule latex, which is hypoallergenic, for medical applications.

The PENRA industrial consortium, however, focuses on Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TK) rubber derived from wild plants originally collected by USDA in 2008. Creation and development of TK as a new farm-based natural rubber crop that can support our existing rubber manufacturing industry is complex and requires the integration of distinctly different PENRA-led efforts. Current research targets five areas:

Domestication and Germplasm Improvement: Seed acquisition, seed biology, selection, propagation, breeding and biotechnological enhancement result in high rubber yields and crop adaptability.

Production Systems Development:  Understanding of crop physiology, cultural inputs, integrated pest and crop management practices, harvesting equipment and post-harvest conditions and enhanced natural rubber yields and seed production in improved germplasm.

BioProcessing Optimization: Processing strategies that optimize the extraction and purification of rubber and associated co-products, at bench and pilot scale, and inform commercial scale designs.

Byproduct Processing: Utilization of carbohydrate by-products for high grade dietary fiber and fermentation to biofuels and platform chemicals to maximize profitability.

Rubber Validation and Utilization: Characterization and successful incorporation into a full spectrum product as an alternate rubber replacement to support large scale production and U.S. self-sustainability.

 research montage