Making rubber with … dandelions?

Dandelions are like the gift that just keeps on giving.

I knew these guys were versatile in terms of what they can be used for, aside from an unwanted lawn fixture, but I guess I wasn’t aware of just how many uses this weed offers.

I found an article courtesy of The Good News Network by Andy Corbley explaining yet another use for dandelions, and if you don’t believe me, I don’t blame you, because I wouldn’t believe me, either, until I read the article. Check it out.

“As companies continue to search for more environmentally regenerative materials to use in manufacturing, the tire industry is beginning to revisit an old Soviet method of rubber cultivation, using a plant that is considered a pesky weed in the West—dandelions.

“A major tire company in Germany has partnered with the University of Aachen to produce dandelion rubber tires in a bid to cut back on landfill waste, microplastic pollution, deforestation, and economic shortcomings related to rubber tree cultivation.

“While the concept of ‘dandelion rubber’ seems like a Harry Potter spell waiting to happen, as mentioned previously, it was actually developed by the Soviet Union in their quest for self-sufficiency.

“Reporting from DW tells the story of a scavenger hunt across the largest country ever, and the testing of more than 1,000 different specimens before dandelions growing in Kazakhstan were found to be a perfect fit.

“Previously, the world used the rubber trees, mostly Hevea brasiliensi, from Brazil, but during the Second World War the major powers of the USSR, UK, US, and Germany, were all cultivating dandelions for rubber manufacturing.

“Now, Continental Tires is producing dandelion rubber tires called Taraxagum (which is the genus name of the species). The bicycle version of their tires even won the German Sustainability Award 2021 for sustainable design.

“Capable of growing, as we all know, practically anywhere, dandelion needs very little accommodation in a country or business’s agriculture profile. The Taraxagum research team at Continental hypothesizes they could even be grown in the polluted land on or around old industrial parks,” explains the article.

Is there anything dandelions can’t do?

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