Dandelions may be the future for tyre production
YOU may never look at the humble dandelion the same way again. Most of us regard it as a useless weed. But it could be the key to making tyres of the future.
The full potential of what is described as "promising technology" will be revealed after testing on public roads over the next few years.
The industry faces huge increases in demand for natural rubber in future.
Currently that used in the tyre industry is harvested from the rubber trees, but Continental Tyres researchers believe extracting it from dandelion roots will make tyre production more efficient and sustainable. According to researchers and experts it is a rubber-rich plant.
All of a sudden the dandelion smells sweet. We all know it grows nearly everywhere and is a hardy plant. As well as that, it can be harvested every year – unlike rubber trees which can take up to seven years to mature. And the rubber extraction process is less dependent on weather.
Now an award-winning project called RUBIN is aiming to find how it can best meet growing demand. The project is in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology at the University of Munster. It recently won a prestigious GreenTec award.
Continental is currently working on the industrial use of Russian dandelion which is rubber-rich and which doesn't need a tropical climate, Dr Andreas Topp, vice-president of materials and development at the industrial tyres division told Independent Motors.