Dandelions are a common weed and often the bane of gardeners around the world, but before you give those pesky cotton balls a Roundup shower, German tyre manufacturer Continental has announced it will be releasing its first tyre made with dandelion rubber at the Tour de France next month.
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The company has been experimenting with cheap and environmentally sustainable alternatives to harvesting rubber from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which only grows within 30 degrees of the equator in Asia, Africa and South America, and takes between seven and ten years to deliver its first harvest.
After extensive research, Continental found the roots of the Russian dandelion (Taraxacum koksaghyz) contain the same natural rubber that comes from the trees, but it can be cultivated all-round the world and harvested within one year.
“In agricultural terms, dandelions are an undemanding plant, growing in moderate climates, even in the northern hemisphere and can be cultivated on land not suitable for food production,” says Dr. Carla Reck, project leader at Continental.
“This means that rubber production is conceivable near our tyre factories, for instance, and the significantly shorter transport routes also reduce CO2 emissions.”
The new compound that Continental has created is called Urban TaraxaGum, and the German tyre maker will be releasing a limited run of 700x35c bike tyres for “sport bikes and racing bikes.”
The brand says it’s hoping to make dandelion rubber tyres a mainstay of its car and bike tyres within the decade.
Produced at its Korbach factory, Continental hasn’t released too many details about the new TaraxaGum road tyres.
However, if you look closely at the Powerpoint slide in the images sent out by Continental, it shows the Mountain King and the Adidas Terrex CMKT trail running shoes sharing a tread pattern.
Does that mean we might see a Mountain King MTB tyre made from the TaraxaGum rubber in the not too distant future? Only time will tell.