Flower power: Vredestein's Quatrac Lite
Earlier this week, Apollo Vredestein B.V. produced its first tires using European natural rubber.
The tire manufacturer is a partner in the EU-PEARLS project, the objective of which is to find a European alternative to natural rubber from the rubber tree. EU-PEARLS stands for European Union-Production and Exploitation of Alternative Rubber and Latex Sources.
"Natural rubber is indispensable to the tire industry. With many applications, it is not possible to simply replace natural rubber with a synthetic variant," says Vredestein.
"Natural rubber is currently extracted from the rubber tree, which grows mostly in Asia. To reduce dependence on the rubber tree, there is a need for an alternative on the European market."
EU-PEARLS is a joint project between several European research organizations and industrial partners that focuses on research into two plants: the Russian dandelion and the desert plant guayule. "Finding suitable conditions for the growth of these plants in Europe, optimizing the yield and quality of the natural rubber, and designing the ideal extraction methods are all important components of the research."
Apollo Vredestein produced tires from natural rubber from both the Russian dandelion and from guayule. The natural rubber from these alternatives is being processed in various types of the Quatrac Lite, size 155/65 R14.
"Although first impressions look very promising, the tires with the alternative natural rubbers will first undergo extensive testing over the coming months before being taken into production," adds Vredestein.
The EU-PEARLS project is financed by the European Commission FP7 KBBE Program. The research results will be presented on Sept. 24-25, 2012, during the closing conference in Wageningen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.eu-pearls.eu/UK.