ERJ staff report (BC)
Carlsbad, California – Kultevat L.L.C. is moving rapidly toward its goal of full-scale production of rubber and sugar syrup from Russian dandelion plants (Taraxacum kok-saghyz or TKS) in the U.S. and abroad by 2016, reports Mike McNulty of Rubber & Plastics News.
Founder Daniel R. Swiger said: "Currently we are producing small amounts of rubber with larger acres of TKS going in the ground in fall 2013. TKS is an annual crop, so we can plant, grow and process in one year versus two years for guayule and seven years for hevea."
The firm is growing the plants in 12 states and searching for other acreage in Canada and Mexico.
Kultevat's most recent developments are reported as follows:
• On 5 April, the company entered into an agreement with KeyGene N.V., a Netherlands biotech company, to collaborate on the production of rubber from the Russian dandelion. Under the pact, the firms will invest in the development and commercial introduction of new dandelion varieties that are enriched for latex in their roots and are suitable for large-scale production of natural rubber.
• In late January, the firm named prominent scientist Roger Beachy its chief scientific officer.
• More recently, Swiger said the company will move to new headquarters at the Helix Center in St. Louis from its present facility in Carlsbad in June.
• Beachy will set up an analytical laboratory with a small staff of scientists and technicians at the St. Louis site. The company plans to hire 35 to 45 engineers, scientists, office and field management personnel, and others within the next two years, Swiger said.
• The firm is in the midst of raising about $5 million from individual investors "and will be fully subscribed by May," he said. It plans another fund-raising drive in the future.
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