A large tire company in Germany has partnered with the University of Aachen to produce dandelion rubber tires in an attempt to reduce landfill waste, microplastic pollution, deforestation, and economic shortcomings related to growing dandelion. Rubber tree.
Although the concept of “dandelion rubber” sounds like a Harry Potter spell waiting to happen, as mentioned earlier, it was actually developed by the Soviet Union in its quest for self-sufficiency.
The DW report tells the story of a treasure hunt in the greatest country of all time, and testing over 1,000 different specimens before dandelions growing in Kazakhstan were considered a perfect fit.
Previously, the world used rubber trees, mainly Hevea brasiliensis, Brazil, but during World War II the main powers of the USSR, United Kingdom, United States and Germany cultivated dandelions for the manufacture of rubber.
After the war ended, demand and supply gradually returned to Brazil and eventually to synthetic tires made petrochemicals.
Helping bees and our environment
Now Continental Tires is producing dandelion rubber tires called Taraxagum (which was inspired by the species' genus name Taraxacum). The bicycle version of its tires even won the 2021 German Sustainability Award for sustainable design.
“The fact that we were at the top of the 54 finalists shows that our Urban Taraxagum bicycle tire is a unique product that contributes to the development of a new alternative and sustainable supply of raw materials,” said Dr. Carla Recker, Head of development for the Taraxagum project.
The DW report added that the performance of dandelion tires was better in some cases than natural rubber – which is usually blended with synthetic rubber.
Able to grow, as we all know, practically any, the dandelion needs very little accommodation in the profile of a country or an agricultural company. Taraxagum's research team at Continental surmise that they could even be cultivated on polluted land or around old industrial parks.
Furthermore, the only additive needed during the rubber extraction process is hot water, unlike Hevea, which requires the use of organic solvents that pose a pollution risk if not disposed of properly.
Representing a critical early-season food supply for declining bees and a valuable source of super-nutritious food for humans, dandelions can also be turned into coffee, giving any child a good time blowing their seeds – and, now, as a new source for rubber in the world; truly a wonderful plant.