Guayule domestication is under development at Yulex. Guayule delivers high tactile performance, absence of allergenic latex proteins and offers renewable sustainability because it is resourced from a domestic plant-based resource. Yulex Pure™ guayule rubber meets the critical performance standards necessary for many medical, industrial and consumer applications and exceeds performance standards of many synthetic lattices.
- Yulex Pure™ from guayule has been commercialized through a co-branded wetsuit product line with Patagonia, bringing a sustainably sourced wetsuit to the action sports market for the first time to great marketplace acclaim
- Yulex is improving the guayule crop through advanced genomic technologies for commercial production yields
Seed to Suit
“We’re doing this to try to live up to the second half of our mission … We knew that the perfect world for us was to develop an alternative (to neoprene). So we started working with Yulex.” – Jason McCaffrey, Patagonia Surf Director
Yulex’s bioprocessing technology includes aqueous methods for emulsion extraction and product refinement. Our scientists have developed proprietary methods for extracting this emulsion to consistently achieve extremely low protein concentrations. In addition, our proprietary proven commercial farming, harvesting and biotech programs increase the plant’s emulsion yields with faster growing cycles to produce more product for the medical, building, rubber and energy industries.
The technology involves homogenizing the entire hedged guayule shrub. Rubber is found primarily in the bark and must be released in the processing. Branches are ground, releasing intact rubber particles and creating an aqueous suspension. The suspension is then placed in a centrifuge for separation. The rubber portion of the mixture is culled off the top (much the same way that cream is skimmed off milk) and purified.
Hevea rubber is tapped from ducts, which are found in a layer immediately outside the cambium of the Hevea tree. The tapper shaves off a portion of the intact section of the bark and then cuts into this layer making certain not to damage the cambium, since that is where the growth of the tree takes place. The Hevea rubber then flows and is captured in a cup placed below the cut.
Research on guayule rubber has been conducted for almost a century now, since leaf blight wiped out the natural rubber industry in South America. While industrialists such as Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie labored to restart the commercial rubber plantations in South America without success, a few others looked into domestic alternatives. Early work focused on indigenous species of guayule found in the desert southwest of the U.S. and northern Mexico. Prior to amassing his great fortune in steel, Andrew Carnegie once lamented, “I should have chosen rubber.”