Performance of the WinterContact TS 850 P will be tested on the company’s own test sites, the Contidrom, north of Hanover, and in Arvidsjaur, Sweden
Continental has pulled together all the information about the milestones of this pioneering research project at www.taraxagum.de
The leading international tire manufacturer has reached an important milestone in its research project for the industrialization of dandelion rubber in tire production. At the ContiWinterRoadshow 2014, Continental presented the first test tires made from the innovative material that the company is calling Taraxagum™, derived from the botanical name for the dandelion (taraxacum). Manufacture of the first WinterContact TS 850 P with natural rubber from dandelion roots has taken Continental an important step closer to reaching its long-term goal of making tire production more sustainable and less dependent on traditional raw materials.
“After several years of intensive development work together with the Fraunhofer Institute, we are excited to be taking the first dandelion tires onto the road,” said Nikolai Setzer, Member of the Executive Board of Continental responsible for the Tires Division. “To get the most meaningful test results from the crop yield produced by our research project to date, we decided to build winter tires, as they contain a particularly high proportion of natural rubber. Our goal remains to develop tires based on dandelion rubber to readiness for series production within the next five to ten years.” Continental has the Contidrom proving grounds north of Hanover at its disposal for extensive tests under summer conditions. However, the characteristics of these first winter tires with dandelion rubber tread will be tested at Continental’s test site in Arvidsjaur, Sweden, where the Company traditionally tests its future products under winter conditions from December to April.
“The development process of Taraxagum™ has been very promising so far and we are currently continuing the industrialization process together with our partners. We are very confident that the results achieved with the test tires to date will be confirmed, and that we will meet our performance targets,” added Dr. Andreas Topp, Head of Material and Process Development and Industrialization for Tires at Continental. A very high-yield and robust kind of Russian dandelion has been cultivated as a result of extensive research carried out over recent years together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), the Julius Kühn Institute, and the plant breeding company Aeskulap.
The research project’s long-term goal is to find an ecologically, economically and socially viable solution for the increasing demand for natural rubber. This would ease the pressure on the traditional rubber tree plantations in the tropics. Additionally, the aim is to reduce dependency on natural rubber which can be subject to severe price fluctuations on the commodities exchanges. Moreover, cultivating dandelion crops on previously unused land in temperate regions throughout Europe, which are therefore also close to Continental’s European tire plants, should also reduce the outlay for logistics and the burden on the environment.
The dandelion-based rubber called Taraxagum™ obtained from the root of the Russian dandelion is a joint development by Continental, the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), the Julius Kühn Institute, and the plant breeder Aeskulap GmbH. It represents an alternative to the traditional cultivation of natural rubber. The plan is for this innovative material to make an important contribution to meeting the growing global demand for natural rubber in a sustainable way, and to reducing the volatility of the natural rubber market.
The development project also includes projects funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Nutrition and Agriculture. In May 2014, the dandelion rubber project was honored with the prestigious European “GreenTec Award”, an environmental and business prize, in the “Automobility” category. Continental recently presented the case study “We develop sustainability” on current goals, trends and successes in tire development. Like all the information on the topic of dandelion rubber published so far, the study can be found at www.taraxagum.com.