WIESBADEN, Germany—Scientists from the Tire Division of Continental A.G. and two biotechnology research institutes won the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for their research into commercialization of the rubber from the Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS) dandelion.
The prize was presented June 16 in Wiesbaden. Carla Rucker of Conti was a recipient, as were Dirk Prufer and Christian Schulze Gronover of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology and the Institute for Plant Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Munster.
Rucker, Prufer and Gronover are the leading scientists collaborating on an ongoing project, “RUBIN—Industrial Emergence of Natural Rubber from Dandelions.”
The specific goal of RUBIN is the development of passenger tire prototypes from rubber extracted from TKS, which is also known as the Russian dandelion.
“In agricultural terms, (TKS) is an undemanding plant, even in the Northern Hemisphere, and can be cultivated on land not suitable for food production,” Rucker said in a Conti news release.
“This means that rubber production is conceivable near our tire factories, for instance, and the significantly shorter transport routes would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”
According to Conti, tires made with dandelion rubber show equivalent properties to those made with conventional (Hevea brasiliensis) rubber.
The tire maker unveiled Conti WinterContact 850 P winter tires made with treads made from dandelion rubber at the International Motor Show Commercial Vehicles in Hanover in September 2014. Conti coined the name “Taraxagum” for its dandelion rubber tires, derived from Taraxacum.
Since that time, Conti has said it expects to incorporate dandelion rubber into its regular production lines within the next five to 10 years.
The company said it definitely will make dandelion rubber tires for other market segments, but currently it is concentrating on dandelion latex output and optimization of latex extraction processes.