November 19, 2012

Guayule rubber in wetsuit

US-based Yulex sent me this press release this weekend regarding their project with sports/outdoors products manufacturer Patagonia on a guayule rubber-based wetsuit as an alternative for the use of neoprene materials.

The blog first heard about guayule (pronounced why-YOU-lee) in 2009 when the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) put out an article about their research with this plant as a source of natural latex ideal for making high-quality gloves, medical devices and even as biofuel with the use of its waste stems and branches (bagasse).

Guayule shrubs can first be harvested as early as 2 years after planting. The shrubs typically grow at least 3 feet high and several feet across, and sliced just above the ground, they regrow vigorously and are ready to harvest again in another year and a half or so.

According to Yulex, Patagonia has just launched a wetsuit that contains 60% renewable content using Yulex's biorubber material made from guayule and the rest from petrochemical-based materials. The guayule rubber has allowed Patagonia to use as little as neoprene as possible, the company said.

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