ERJ staff report (BC)
Hanover – Tire maker Continental and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Aachen have started work on a tonne-scale high-grade dandelion rubber production plant at the Münster site of the IME.
Nikolai Setzer, who is responsible for the tire division within Continental's executive board, said: "We are investing in this promising material development and production project because we are convinced that it will enable us to further improve our tire production in the long run.
"This is because the production of rubber from dandelion roots is far less weather-dependent than production from rubber trees. The new system is so undemanding in terms of agricultural requirements that it opens up new potential – particularly currently uncultivated land that are. By growing the crops much closer to our production sites, we would also be able to significantly reduce the burden on the environment and our logistics outlay.
Project manager Professor Dirk Prüfer said: "We have built up a great deal of expertise in the field of dandelion cultivation. Thanks to DNA marker technology, we now know which gene is responsible for which molecular property. This enables us to grow particularly high-yield plants much more efficiently.
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