Russian dandelion and Guayule offer possible solutions for natural rubber shortage
This week the first tires manufactured with European natural rubber rolled off the production belt at Apollo Vredestein. The manufacturer of tires for cars, bicycles and agricultural applications is involved in research into sources of natural rubber as a partner in the EU-PEARLS project. The objective of the project is to find a European alternative to natural rubber from the rubber tree.
Natural rubber is indispensable to the tire industry. With many applications it is not possible to simply replace natural rubber with a synthetic variant. 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 which focuses on research into two plants, the Russian dandelion and the desert plant guayule. The goal is to make it possible to produce natural rubber in Europe. 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. The ultimate aim is an optimized use of the raw material in finished products such as tires and other rubber articles.
Vredestein Quatrac Lite with European natural rubber
The EU-PEARLS project resulted in two alternatives for natural rubber from the rubber tree. This week, 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.
The EU-PEARLS project (212827) is financed by the European Commission FP7 KBBE Program. The research results will be presented on September 24th and 25th 2012 during the closing conference in Wageningen, The Netherlands. For more information see www.eu-pearls.eu/UK