Continental developing tyres from dandelions

Continental Dandelion Tyres Continental Dandelion Tyres
Continental Dandelion Tyres2 Continental Dandelion Tyres2

Continental is researching ways of using dandelions as materials for its tyres.

Continental Tyres has teamed up with the German Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology to develop a commercially viable method of using latex sourced from dandelions in its tyres.

"While the notion of obtaining latex from dandelions has been around for a long time, we have been working on this very intensively for the past four years, and two and a half years ago we entered into a joint development with the Fraunhofer Institute with the aim of cultivating suitable plants," Continental Tyres head of research David O’Donnel says.

Continental say that currently between ten and 30 per cent of the rubber they use comes from the rubber tree, and that the move towards using dandelions would have a variety of environmental benefits.

"The outcome is a dandelion-based rubber that is comparable in quality and functionality with the product of the rubber tree," O’Donnel adds.

Dandelions can be cultivated on land unsuitable for food crops, which would allow plantations to be built next to tyre plants. The advantages of this method includes a reduction in carbon emissions due to less transportation,  monocultures of rubber trees in rainforest regions could be reduced, and Continental would not be subject the volatility of the rubber market.

"Dandelion rubber will shorten transport routes to our production sites and enable the growing global demand for rubber to be met without sacrificing more precious areas of rainforest," Continental material and process development vice president Andreas Topp says.

"While we don’t want to set a date, the main obstacles have already been overcome – we think that in three or four years, a substantial number of our initial ‘dandelion tyres’ will be involved in road testing," O’Donnell adds.

Earlier this year the rubber tyres project took out one of the 14 categories in the 2014 GreenTec awards, which is one of Europe’s biggest environmental and business prizes. 

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