Continental has reached an important milestone in its research project for the industrialisation of dandelion rubber in tyre production. During the International Motor Show (IAA) Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, Continental presented the first test tyres made from the innovative material that the company is calling Taraxagum, derived from the botanical name for dandelion (taraxacum). The natural rubber in the treads of the test tyres was completely replaced with Taraxagum. This important step takes Continental even closer to reaching its goal of making tyre production more sustainable and less dependent from traditional raw materials.
“After several years of development work together with the Fraunhofer Institute, we are excited to take the first dandelion tyres to the road. In order to make the best use of the crop yield produced to date, we decided to build passenger car winter tyres, as they contain a high portion of natural rubber,” explains Nikolai Setzer, Member of the Continental Executive Board and responsible for the Tyre Division. Continental intends to industrialise dandelion rubber and introduce it to serial production within the next five to ten years. The tyres will undergo thorough testing at the Contidrom proving grounds near Hanover as well as in Arvidsjaur, Sweden. Setzer stresses: “This is of utmost importance, as we will not make any compromise when it comes to performance.”
“The development process of Taraxagum has been very promising so far and we are continuing the industrialisation together with our partners. We are very confident that our current research results will be confirmed through the tyre tests and that they will meet the performance targets,” adds Dr. Andreas Topp, Head of Material and Process Development as well as Industrialisation for Tyres at Continental. Through extensive research in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), the Julius Kühn-Institute, and the plant breeder Aeskulap GmbH, a very high-yielding and robust kind of Russian dandelion was cultivated.
The project’s long-term goal is to find an ecologically, economically as well as socially viable solution for the increasing natural rubber demand. Russian dandelion can be cultivated on previously unused acreages in temperate regions throughout Europe, which are also close to Continental’s tyre plants. This shortens transport routes and reduces the environmental impact. In May 2014, the dandelion rubber project was awarded the prestigious environmental and economic prize “GreenTec Award“ in the Automobilty category.