Hanover, Germany – A team of scientists from Continental, Fraunhofer IME and University of Munich have been nominated for the ‘federal president's award for technology and innovation 2021’ for their sustainable tire project, which has been ongoing since 2011.
Dr Carla Recker (Continental), Prof Dr Dirk Prüfer (University of Münster) and Dr Christian Schulze Gronover (Fraunhofer Institute for molecular biology and applied ecology IME) were nominated by the German president’s office for the award on 15 Sept, Continental said in a statement.
According to Conti, the annual award is given to individuals or teams for “outstanding technical, engineering, or scientific innovation.”
“This award is a great honour for us. It once again confirms the potential of a new raw material source for natural rubber,” said Recker, head of the Expertfield materials chemistry at Continental Tires.
According to Recker, Conti’s long-term goal is to industrialise the cultivation of dandelion rubber.
“Our first, series-produced bicycle tire made from dandelion rubber, the Urban Taraxagum, shows that marketable products made of natural rubber from the dandelion plant are possible,” she added.
The project delivers a number of sustainability goals for Continental, including the protection of tropical forests and lowering CO2 emissions from the transport process, explained Dr Dirk Pruefer, professor of plant biotechnology at the University of Münster.
However, the path to make the Russian dandelion to become a “cultivatable” raw material source has posed “a major challenge” for the researchers.
“We have worked with a plant breeder to establish high-yielding and hardy plants from wild Russian dandelion,” said Schulze Gronover, head of research at the Fraunhofer IME.
“We have also developed an environmentally friendly process for extracting rubber from the roots of the plants,” he added.
The extended network, which has contributed to the implementation of the project, also includes among others the Julius Kuehn Institute and the plant breeding company ESKUSA.