Anklam, Germany – Continental has officially inaugurated its laboratory for research into the production of rubber from the Russian dandelion, at Anklam, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The 6 Dec opening of the Taraxagum Lab Anklam came just a year after ground-breaking on the 30,000m² base, dedicated to the study of dandelion-rubber farming and extraction methods.
Representing an investment of €35-million, the northern Germany facility is expected to have around 20 employees with backgrounds in agricultural sciences, chemistry, and production and process technology.
Continental’s Taraxagum project partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, the Julius Kühn-Institute and crop-breeding firm ESKUSA.
The ministry of economic affairs of the state of Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania supported the project with €11.6 million.
Continental plans to begin serial production using the plant-derived material within ten years, with an ultimate goal of its Taraxagum-branded product meeting a significant part of its natural rubber requirement.
The company is the first tire maker to invest significantly in industrialising dandelion rubber, Nikolai Setzer, member of the Continental AG board and head of its Tire division said at the opening.
The Russian dandelion, he added, is “an important complementary alternative to conventional natural rubber from hevea brasiliensis that could help meet rising global demand in an environmentally compatible and reliable way.”
Continental has been conducting research into replacing natural rubber from the tropics with plants which can be grown at moderate climates since 2011
The company presented a sample winter tire featuring a dandelion rubber tread in 2014 and a truck tire with a tread made from Taraxagum in 2016.