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Goodyear enters partnership to advance dandelion rubber in US

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has entered a “multi-year, multi-million-dollar” programme to commercialise the production of natural rubber (NR) from dandelions.


Supported the US department of defence (DoD), the Air Force research lab (AFRL) and BioMADE, the programme will see Goodyear working with Ohio-based Farmed Materials to develop a domestic source of NR from Taraxacum kok-saghyz, also known as TK.


The investment will build on research that analysed more than 2,500 species of plants and found a few with properties suitable for use in tires, Goodyear announced 7 April.


According to the US tire maker, Farmed Materials has shown initial positive results in pilot programmes for TK, yielding strong harvests that need additional planting and funding.


The collaboration aims to accelerate the commercialisation of TK rubber, beginning this spring with the planting and harvesting of TK seeds in Ohio.


The natural rubber will be used in the production of military aircraft tires that will be built and tested in cooperation with the AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio.


If additional testing provides promising results, Goodyear said it sees potential for the application of TK rubber in all tire applications.


“Global demand for natural rubber continues to grow, and it remains a key raw material for the tire industry,” said Chris Helsel, SVP global operations and chief technology officer for Goodyear.


“This is a critical time to develop a domestic source of natural rubber, which may help mitigate future supply chain challenges.”


While rubber trees typically take seven years to produce the latex needed for rubber production, dandelions can be harvested every six months. TK dandelions are also resilient and can grow in more temperate climates, such as Ohio.


Natural rubber has been classified as a strategic raw material in the US, serving as a critical ingredient in military, aircraft and truck tires.


Presently, more than 90% of the world’s NR is made from latex derived from rubber trees and is primarily sourced from tropical locations.