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Continental's dandelion research earns prize

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Continental's dandelion research earns prize

Continental Corp. Tire Division's research to develop natural rubber from Russian dandelion has earned the tire manufacturer, along with its scientific partners, the 2015 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize.

The project, entitled "RUBIN – Industrial Emergence of Natural Rubber from Dandelion," is a collaborative research project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, the Institute for Plant Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Münster, and Continental's Tire Division.

The award was presented in Wiesbaden, Germany, to Dirk Prüfer and Christian Schulze Gronover of the Fraunhofer Instittue for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, and Carla Recker from Continental.

"The objective of this joint project is to develop a procedure for the industrial use of dandelion as a source of rubber,” says Recker, who heads the Continental team involved in the development of the material. “In agricultural terms, it is an undemanding plant, even in the northern hemisphere, and can be cultivated on land not suitable for food production. This means that rubber production is conceivable near our tire factories, for instance, and the significantly shorter transport routes would also reduce CO2 emissions."

"During our research, we have discovered which genes promote rubber production and which ones hinder it,” Prüfer and Schulze Gronover said at the award ceremony. “We were able to use this knowledge to develop plants that produce twice as much natural rubber. We also managed to extract several kilos of dandelion rubber with a small pilot system. This opened up prospects in terms of scaling up industrial production to the level of tons.”

“We are honored to receive this prestigious award for our joint project," says Recker. "It will make tire production even more environmentally friendly, without compromising our high quality standards or losing out on performance."

The first test tires have already been tested under both summer and winter conditions. Tires made from dandelion rubber show an equivalent property profile when compared with tires made from conventional natural rubber from the rubber tree. Continental intends to launch series production of tires made from dandelion rubber in five to 10 years. Further information about the project is available at www.taraxagum.de.

View a video on the team's research here.

For more information about Continental, visit www.continental-corporation.de.

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