Rubber Made From Dandelions is Making Tires More Sustainable – Truly a Wondrous Plant
Think twice about those little yellow weeds – a tire company in Germany is finding ways to use dandelions in their tire manufacturing process! Read on!
Original article by Andy Corbley via the Good News Network
As companies continue to search for more environmentally regenerative materials to use in manufacturing, the tire industry is beginning to revisit an old Soviet method of rubber cultivation, using a plant that is considered a pesky weed in the West—dandelions.
A major tire company in Germany has partnered with the University of Aachen to produce dandelion rubber tires in a bid to cut back on landfill waste, microplastic pollution, deforestation, and economic shortcomings related to rubber tree cultivation.
While the concept of “dandelion rubber” seems like a Harry Potter spell waiting to happen, as mentioned previously, it was actually developed by the Soviet Union in their quest for self-sufficiency.
Reporting from DW tells the story of a scavenger hunt across the largest country ever, and the testing of more than 1,000 different specimens before dandelions growing in Kazakhstan were found to be a perfect fit.
Previously, the world used the rubber trees, mostly Hevea brasiliensi, from Brazil, but during the Second World War the major powers of the USSR, UK, US, and Germany, were all cultivating dandelions for rubber manufacturing.
After the war ended, demand and supply gradually returned to Brazil and eventually to synthetic tires made from petrochemicals.
Aiding the bees and our environment
Now, Continental Tires is producing dandelion rubber tires called Taraxagum (which was inspired by the genus name of the species, Taraxacum). The bicycle version of their tireseven won the German Sustainability Award 2021 for sustainable design.
“The fact that we came out on top among 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,” stated Dr. Carla Recker, head of development for the Taraxagum project.
The report from DW added that the performance of dandelion tires was better in some cases than natural rubber—which is typically blended with synthetic rubber.