WAGENINGEN, Netherlands (May 7, 2012)—Add India's Apollo Tyres Ltd. to the list of companies researching renewable alternatives to natural rubber.
Apollo's Apollo Vredestein subsidiary in Enschede, Netherlands, has joined EU-PEARLS, a joint project involving several European research organizations and industrial partners focusing on research into the Russian dandelion and the desert plant guayule as NR alternatives.
The goal is to make it possible to produce natural rubber in Europe. Finding suitable conditions for the growth of these plants in Europe, optimizing the yield and quality of the natural rubber, and designing the ideal extraction methods are all important components of the research.
The ultimate aim is an optimized use of the raw material in finished products such as tires and other rubber articles.
Russian dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz, is a species of dandelion native to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Also known as rubber root, it is known for its production of high quality latex, according to a number of online sources.
Another advantage of these two possible sources of latex is that the natural rubber extracted from them does not contain proteins, which can cause allergic reactions. It's estimated up to 6 percent of the world's population is allergic to NR latex from the rubber tree.
Initial studies show that both the Russian dandelion and guayule are a good alternative to the rubber tree in terms of their properties, Apollo Vredestein said.
The research in the coming months will focus on optimizing the growth development and speed of the Russian dandelion to increase its content of natural rubber available for extraction.
Apollo Vredestein did not divulge the value of its contribution to the research effort.
Progress on the research will be presented Sept. 24-25 at “BioRubber for Europe in Global Perspective,” a congress organized by the EU-PEARLS consortium. It will take place in Wageningen.