Hanover/Anklam, December 6, 2018. Today Continental, technology company and manufacturer of premium tires, has officially inaugurated its research and test laboratory named “Taraxagum Lab Anklam” in Anklam, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany, and presented it to the public. After the ground-breaking ceremony in November 2017, the building covering an area of 30,000 square meters is ready for occupation just one year later and has therefore been completed on schedule. It is set to provide a base for future research into the cultivation and processing of Russian dandelion as an alternative source of raw material to the rubber tree in the tropics. In case of positive test results, the tire manufacturer is planning to introduce the raw material into serial production within ten years, in order to obtain an increasing proportion of its natural rubber demand from the dandelion plant.
At the opening, Nikolai Setzer, member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and head of the Tire division, said, “We are proud to inaugurate this lighthouse project today. We are the first tire manufacturer in the world to invest such a significant amount in industrializing dandelion rubber. We see Russian dandelion as an important alternative and complement to conventional natural rubber from hevea brasiliensis to allow us to meet rising global demand in an environmentally compatible and reliable way.” The investment in the new research and test laboratory is also another technological milestone on the road to implementing the Vision 2025 that Continental has developed for its tire business. “As part of our Vision 2025 strategy, we have invested far more than €2 billion in production, research and development as well as in jobs and new products worldwide since 2011. Anklam in 2018 now features prominently in the series of unique projects in Europe, America, and Asia,” highlighted Setzer.
In the medium term, around 20 employees from the areas of agricultural sciences, chemistry, and production and procedural techniques will be engaged with growing the plants as well as developing, setting up and operating machines for initial tests for the further processing of Russian dandelion at the new location. The Ministry of Economic Affairs of the state of Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania supported the future-oriented project with €11.6 million in order to create the high-quality jobs locally. The new business location creates opportunities for farmers in the region and their cultivation areas , too.
During the opening ceremony, Harry Glawe, Minister of Economics, Employment and Health of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Michael Galander, the Mayor of Anklam, and site manager Dr. Carsten Venz addressed the project partners like the Fraunhofer Institute IME, journalists, farmers, neighbors and residents of Anklam who had gathered.
„With the opening in Anklam a foundation is laid for research and development in a new dimension and diversity. We are fully convinced of this project which has the potential to shape the future of the region. The new research laboratory is an important step towards future-oriented workplaces in Western Pomerania. It is our goal that with the success of the research project a production plant for natural rubber arises. This enterprise contributes to more direct value creation and the local agriculture as well as the industry in the region will be strengthened equally”, underlined Harry Glawe, Minister of Economics, Employment and Health of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
“We have been working to understand the molecular basis of the rubber biosynthesis in the dandelion plant for many years. This biological understanding has now brought industrial use within reach. With the new test laboratory, Continental has broken new ground that makes this transfer concept highly visible,” emphasized Dirk Prüfer, Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster – WWU) and site director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Münster branch.
Continental had presented the plans for the laboratory in August 2016 and began construction in Anklam in November 2017. The tire manufacturer has been conducting research into replacing rubber from the tropics with plants that can be grown at temperate latitudes since 2011 in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute IME in Münster, the Julius Kühn Institute in Quedlinburg, the cultivation experts from ESKUSA in Parkstetten and other partners in various research projects with support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as well as the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The first sample of a premium winter tire featuring tread made from pure dandelion rubber was brought onto the road in 2014. The first truck tire with a tread made from Taraxagum then followed at IAA 2016.
You can find further information about the Taraxagum project at: www.taraxagum.com