Dandelions. We’ve all seen ‘em, bees love ‘em… some weirdos even drink dandelion tea (barf). But if Continental Tire gets its way, you’ll soon find dandelions in an even more unlikely place — your car. Your car’s tires, to be specific.
We’ve written about dandelion tires on the RightTurn blog before. Back in 2013, the breakthrough was that scientists figured out how to fiddle with he plant’s enzymes to prevent the milky latex it oozes from gumming up when exposed to air.
The hope was that this latex could them be harvested in sufficient amounts to be used as a raw material for rubber products.
Continental tested Taraxagum tires (dandelion tires) in 2014, and the company now expects to bring tires containing dandelion latex to consumers within the next 5 to 10 years.
Roughly a third of a typical car tire is made of natural rubber, and today this natural rubber comes from rubber trees. It isn’t that dandelion rubber is superior to rubber tree rubber, it’s that it could potentially be a much more abundant source.
Rubber trees only grow in warm climates near the equator, and it takes 7 years for a new rubber tree to start producing latex. But as anyone with a lawn can attest, dandelions aren’t hard to come by, and they grow much faster (less than 100 days).
You know what else is growing fast? The global demand for rubber. Being able get rubber from dandelions could help meet this demand.
Watch this video to learn more about Continental’s dandelion tires:
By the way — anyone out there actually tried dandelion tea? I’m curious what you think. I’m not about to try it myself after seeing Google’s autocomplete: