TOKYO (May 21, 2012)—Bridgestone Corp., citing research from Ohio State University, claims the Russian dandelion can become a commercially viable, renewable source of high-quality, tire-grade rubber.
Based on “promising” results achieved by researchers involved in a project led by PENRA—Program for Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives—at Ohio State's Agricultural Research and Development Center, Bridgestone said it will conduct additional testing on Russian dandelion-harvested natural rubber at its technical labs in Akron and Tokyo this summer, with larger scale testing to follow in 2014.
“We know that there are more than 1,200 types of plants from which natural rubber could in theory be harvested,” said Hiroshi Mouri, president, Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology, “but finding one that could practically produce the quality and amount of rubber needed to meet the demands of today's tire market is a challenge.”
Mouri said Bridgestone is dedicating “substantial resources” to finding sustainable alternatives for NR, including the Russian dandelion and guayule, a desert shrub native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.
Bridgestone made a sizeable commitment to guayule research earlier this year, committing itself to establishing a pilot farm and constructing a rubber process research center in the southwestern U.S.
Russian dandelion—Taraxacum kok-saghyz—and guayule have almost identical qualities compared with natural rubber harvested from the Hevea tree, Bridgestone said.