Yokohama has developed a tire made of natural rubber and orange oil. Toyo’s Observe GSi5 tire incorporates thousands of crushed walnut shells. Innovation is always in season for tire manufacturers, so we should not be surprised to see other companies in the field look to alternative resources.
So it is that Continental recently broke ground on a new €35 million research and test laboratory in Germany. The facility is expected to be up and running by autumn 2018, and its principal activity will be working to harvest and develop extraction methods in order to make of dandelions an alternative source of rubber to tropical-climate hevea rubber trees. Yes that’s right, dandelions!
If the research phase proves successful, Continental foresees incorporating this new raw material in its future production process and increasing the proportion of natural, renewable rubber used in its tires.
The solution is part of Continental’s effort to turn increasingly to sustainable development. The company hopes to grow and harvest dandelion in temperate-climate areas closer to its production facilities; in so doing it will reduce the negative impact of tropical-climate rubber plantations as well as the costs and environmental impact of transportation.
Far too early to tell if the rubber made from dandelions will provide tires with the road grip, durability and safety that consumers expect. Stay tuned!