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University of Arizona and Bridgestone partner to create a new sustainable rubber

The University of Arizona is launching a five-year projectto develop a new variety of natural rubber.

The idea is to make the rubber from a more sustainable source that can be grown in the arid Southwest.

UA is using $70 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the tire company, Bridgestone, for the project.

Rubber is usually sourced from the para rubber tree, which grows mostly in southeast Asia. 

The five-year USDA grant focuses on using climate-smart practices to grow and process guayule, instead. That’s a more drought-resistant, shrub native to northern Mexico and parts of the Southwestern U.S. 

The goal is to expand natural rubber production in the Southwest and offer a solution for growers amid the ongoing water crisis.

The Show spoke with Kim Ogden, department chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Arizona, about the project. 

Kim Ogden on The Show with host Lauren Gilger

desert-shrub-rubber-show-lg-20230516.mp3

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.