HANOVER, Germany—Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH has started the construction of its $41.1 million "Taraxagum Lab Anklam" research and test laboratory in northern Germany.
The facility, being built in NorthMecklenburg-Western Pomerania, is set to become operational in the third quarter of 2018 and will create 20 jobs, according to Continental.
Research at the laboratory will focus on the cultivation and processing of the Russian dandelion as an alternative source of raw material to traditional rubber tree plantations in the tropics.
The move is part of Conti's plan to use dandelion rubber in its future series production operations.
"We hope that, through improvements in dandelion cultivation and processing, we will in future be able to meet part of our natural rubber needs in a more sustainable way," Mergell, head of research & development Passenger and Light Truck Tires at Continental said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Russian dandelion, Conti says, can be grown in temperate regions, including in Europe, and therefore substantially reducing the distances the raw material has to travel to its tire production sites.
Continental launched its research on replacing hevea-based natural rubber with material sourced from plants cultivated in temperate regions in 2011 in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute IME in Münster, the Julius Kühn Institute in Quedlinburg, and the plant breeder ESKUSA in Parkstetten.