London – International automotive supplier and tire manufacturer Continental AG has announced that it has reached “an important milestone” in its research project for the industrialisation of dandelion rubber in tire production.
Presenting the first Continental WinterContact TS 850 P with rubber from dandelion roots, David O’Donnell, head of Continental Global R&D said this new product has changed the dynamics of rubber mix for the tire maker. “
The natural rubber price, as low as it is, will bounce back up and we will be hit by the tsunami,” said O’Donnell adding that in line with its sustainability objectives, Continental was investing in Taraxagum, Russian dandelion rubber.
“The yield of dandelion is semi-annual whereas with rubber tree plantations, it takes seven years for a tree to come to yield,” said O’Donnell, adding that cost-wise the dandelion project could prove to be feasible and have a comparable output.
Nikolai Setzer, Continental board member responsible for the group's tires division, added: “To get the most meaningful test results from the crop yield produced by our research project to date, we decided to build winter tires, as they contain a particularly high proportion of natural rubber. Our goal remains to develop tires based on dandelion rubber for series production within the next five to ten years.”
Continental Tires and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) won the GreenTec Awards 2014 earlier this year for their co-development project "RUBIN – Industrial Emergence of Natural Rubber from Dandelions."