The leading international tire manufacturer has made further progress in its research project for the industrialization of dandelion rubber in tire production. Continental has produced a small batch of the ContiWinterContact TS 850 P, with treads made exclusively of rubber from the dandelion root, for testing. In the test drives at test sites in Arividsjaur (Swedish Lapland) and at the Contidrom (Lower Saxony), the tires made of "Taraxagum" demonstrated the properties expected by developers.
"After several years of intensive development work together with the Fraunhofer Institute, we are excited to be taking the first dandelion tires onto the road. To get the most meaningful test results from the crop yield produced by our research project to date, we decided to build passenger car winter tires, as they contain a particularly high proportion of natural rubber. We are continuing to pursue the goal of developing tires based on dandelion rubber to readiness for series production within the next five to ten years," said Nikolai Setzer, Member of the Executive Board of Continental responsible for the Tire Division.
The development of tires with rubber made from the dandelion root at Continental has been very promising. The company is now working with development partners on the further industrialization of the rubber. As a result of extensive research conducted together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), the Julius Kühn Institute, and the plant breeding company Aeskulap, in the past few years good progress toward cultivating a very high-yield and robust kind of Russian dandelion has already been made.
The long-term goal of the research project is to find an ecologically, economically, and socially viable solution to the increasing demand for natural rubber, which would ease the pressure on the traditional rubber tree plantations in the tropics. The project also aims to reduce dependency on the sometimes severe price fluctuations of natural rubber on the commodities exchanges. In addition, cultivating dandelions on previously unused land in temperate regions of Europe – closer to Continental’s European tire plants – would sustainably reduce logistics costs and the transport-related impact on the environment.