Has April First come early? It would appear that Continental Tyres has come up with a recipe for making rubber tyres – from dandelions! Working with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Aachen in Germany, their joint development project is showing encouraging signs.
High-grade natural rubber from dandelion roots has actually been produced in the laboratory and work is now underway on the construction of a pilot facility that can produce natural rubber by the tonne.
According to Continental’s Nikolai Setzer: "The production of rubber from dandelion roots is far less weather-dependent than production from rubber trees. Furthermore, the new system is so undemanding in terms of agricultural requirements that it opens up a whole new potential – particularly for areas of land that are currently uncultivated.”
Dr. Boris Mergell: "With this dandelion project, we are taking a huge step forward on the path to our long-term goal of manufacturing tyres for cars, trucks, and bicycles, as well as specialist tyres, completely without any fossil materials."
Given the fact that most motor rally and race fans spend more time in the garage than in the garden, I reckon we could provide a ready supply of the raw material – otherwise known as weeds.
Just don’t tell Wee Eck, or he’ll start cultivating dandelions around his wind farms as another essential natural resource. Which will be fine – till the petrol and diesel runs out.
What next? Brake pads from sheep dung? We've got plenty of that too.