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Rubber isn’t the best material for the environment but we need it for tires, right? Well, not any longer. Dandelion rubber tires are in the making in order to cut back on landfill waste, microplastic pollution and economic shortcomings connected to rubber tree cultivation.
A big tire company in Germany called Continental Tires has partnered up with the University of Aachen to create and produce dandelion tires. The tires are called Taraxagum because of the species genus name (which is Taraxacum).
This year the company bicycle version of the dandelion tire won the German Sustainability award 2021 for their sustainable design. Dr. Carla Recker, head of development for the Taraxagum project said in a statement:
“The fact that we came out on top among 54 finalists shows that our Urban Taraxagum bicycle tire is a unique product that contributes to the development of a new, alternative and sustainable supply of raw materials.”
A report from DW said that the performance of dandelion tires was actually better, in some aspects, than natural rubber (which is typically blended with synthetic rubber).
Dandelions are capable of growing almost anywhere which means the plant needs very little attention and accommodation in a business's or country's agriculture profile.
The only thing that’s needed during the rubber extraction process is hot water. This is contrary to other types of rubber, which need organic solvents that are posing a pollution risk if not disposed properly.
Dandelions are a critical early-season food supply for bees, a valuable source of super-nutritious food for humans and now a new source for rubber. This plant is wonderful in many ways and truly makes the future come sooner.