News Release

Desert plant could bolster world's supply of natural rubber

Reports and Proceedings

American Chemical Society

Tropical plantations in Southeast Asia have supplied most of the essential, natural rubber for truck, car and airplane tires for the past century. Now the tire industry and others say they're finally overcoming long-standing challenges to turn a desert shrub into an alternative source of the stretchy material. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) explains that the latest developments will help diversify an otherwise vulnerable supply chain.

Alexander Tullo, a senior correspondent at C&EN, explains that natural rubber has unique properties that make it ideal for use in tires. But as dependable as natural rubber is, its supply is not. It mostly comes from one region, where weather, political instability, pests, disease or other factors can interrupt its flow to the global market. To ensure a steadier supply of natural rubber, researchers have long sought ways to extract it economically from a plant called guayule that's native to the southwestern U.S. Their efforts may soon pay off.

Scientists now know how to coax out the rubber trapped in the plant's cells. And manufacturers have already incorporated it in latex products as well as a popular wetsuit. Tire companies seem poised to benefit next though cost is still a concern. They are testing the crop in different arid locations around the world and expect to ramp up production in coming years.


The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact

Follow us: Twitter Facebook

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.