PanAridus, which grows guayule (why-you-lee) for tire rubber and biomass, was named yesterday as one of Biofuels Digest’s 35 hottest companies in feedstock development and supply. The annual rankings, which recognize innovation and achievement in fuels and integrated biorefinery development, are judged largely by an international panel of selectors invited by Biofuels Digest and honor “optimal combinations of visibility and credibility.”
“Selectors and readers have been clear,” said Digest editor and publisher Jim Lane. “Sustainable, affordable, reliable, available feedsock is the key to deployment in the advanced bioeconomy. So we’re delighted to focus in on feedstock in these rankings, from the development of seeds and organisms right through to harvest, storage and logistics.”
The CEO of the Casa Grande-based company, Michael Fraley, warmly welcomed the accolade, calling it the product of sustained and focused research; a dedicated team of employees; and a successful partnership in the USDA/DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative, which is studying the lifecycle of the plant, including tire rubber and energy potential.
“Since we started our research five years ago with the largest privately owned bank of guayule germplasm in the world, we’ve quadrupled the yield per acre we harvest and cut the time it takes to grow a mature guayule bush; that means for the first time in history, farmers can make a profit growing this crop — key to commercialization,” Fraley said. “Not only are we growing more of it more quickly, but, in an industry first, we’ve had the quality of our rubber independently validated by five of the top ten tire companies in the world who confirmed we are ready to roll.”
“We’re also proud to be one of the 20 U.S.-based companies on the list because our business model is based on our ability to extract and supply high quality rubber from Arizona fields to domestic tire companies, which are currently 100 percent reliant on imports from the tropics, and provide a clean source of power from the remainder of the plant with an energy value equal to coal,” Fraley said.
The added bonus of guayule is it’s native to the desert Southwest, which means it’s drought tolerant and requires much less water than cotton or alfalfa, leading Fraley to conclude, “We’ve turned the triple-bottom line into a sustainable circle by growing a crop whose lifecycle provides farm profitability, rubber security, clean energy and smart water management without waste That circular goal has been our focus from day one.