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Dandelion Rubber from Continental Nominated as One of the Top 3 Projects at the GreenTec Awards 2014

  • On February 25, 2014, the 50-strong expert jury will choose the winners from the three finalists in each of the 14 categories – award ceremony to take place on May 4, 2014, in Munich
  • Continental sees huge potential for dandelion as a crop plant in Europe
  • Construction is under way on the pilot facility for industrial production of dandelion rubber

​Leading tire manufacturer Continental and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Münster have been nominated at the GreenTec Awards 2014 for their joint development project "Rubin – rubber that can be industrialized and is made from dandelion plants for tire production" as one of the top three projects in the "Automobility" category. This category recognizes technological innovations, eco-friendly mobility concepts, and mobility services in particular. In the process, the nominated projects are judged not only on the results achieved to date, but also on their future potential. The GreenTec Awards are Europe's biggest environmental and business awards and have been presented since 2008. On February 25, 2014, the 50 renowned experts making up the jury will decide on the podium positions for the three finalists in each of the 14 different categories. The award ceremony will take place in Munich on May 4, 2014, at the start of IFAT, the world's leading trade fair for water, sewage, waste, and raw materials management.

Nikolai Setzer

Nikolai Setzer, Member of the Executive Board of Continental and Head of Tire Division

„Wir freuen uns über den großen Zuspruch für unser Löwenzahn-Kautschuk-Projekt und die Nominierung als Top 3-Projekt. Continental investiert in dieses vielversprechende Materialentwicklungs- und Erzeugungs-Projekt, weil wir überzeugt davon sind, dass wir dadurch unsere Reifenproduktion langfristig weiter verbessern werden“, sagte Nikolai Setzer, der im Continental-Vorstand für die Division Reifen verantwortlich ist. „Denn die Kautschukgewinnung aus der Pusteblumenwurzel ist deutlich wetterunabhängiger möglich als die vom Kautschukbaum und eröffnet aufgrund ihrer agrarischen Anspruchslosigkeit ganz neue Potentiale - insbesondere für heute brachliegende Anbauflächen in Europa. Durch den Anbau in viel kürzerer Entfernung zu unseren Produktionsstandorten können wir darüber hinaus in nennenswertem Umfang sowohl die Umweltbelastung als auch den Logistikaufwand senken.“ Der Anbau ist in zahlreichen Ländern Europas, unter anderem auch in Deutschland möglich. Die ersten Testreifen mit Gummimischungen aus Löwenzahn-Kautschuk sollen im Laufe des nächsten Jahres auf öffentlichen Straßen erprobt werden.

Dr. Andreas Topp

Dr. Andreas Topp, Head of Material and Process Development and Industrialization for Tires at Continental

In recent years, with the aid of state-of-the-art growing methods and optimized cultivation systems, it has been possible to produce high-grade natural rubber from dandelion roots in the laboratory. A pilot facility that produces natural rubber by the ton is currently under construction. Continental is expecting a long-term increase in demand for natural rubber that corresponds with the expected growth of the global tire market.

"With this dandelion project, we have taken a huge step forward on the path to our long-term goal of making the production of tires for cars, trucks, and bicycles, as well as specialist tires, even more sustainable," explains Dr. Andreas Topp, who looks after the cooperation project as the head of Material and Process Development as well as Industrialization for Tires at Continental. "We expect to be able to produce large amounts of dandelion rubber with at least equivalent performance properties to conventional rubber harvested from rubber trees. And, as a result, we will put ourselves in a position where we are much less dependent on the annual harvest situation in the subtropical growing regions," adds Topp. Furthermore, a natural rubber tree requires up to seven years before the first pieces of useable rubber can be harvested. By contrast, natural rubber from dandelion plants could be harvested several times a year without any waiting time at all.