Through the desert: a test drive into the future

Tyres, mattresses, gloves – we depend for so many everyday products on rubber, manufactured from the milky sap of the rubber tree. No synthetic alternative has so far proved a match for natural rubber, but resources are not infinite and the tree grows only in tropical climes. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Münster, Germany, have discovered that the properties of another plant – the Kazakh dandelion – are also suitable for use in rubber production. “The dandelion is a very humble plant, grows in temperate climates and flourishes even in soils that would have difficulty sustaining a potato,” explains research scientist Dirk Prüfer. The fact that the raw material can be grown widely without the need to import it from Asia is also a strong argument in favour of its carbon footprint. In a joint venture with Continental, the researchers have now developed a prototype tyre which scores as highly in tests as a conventional tyre. It is expected that industrial manufacture of products made from dandelion rubber will be viable within a few years.

Written by Gevicar · 22 de marzo de 2017 Posteado en Noticias
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