ANKLAM, Germany — Continental A.G. has broken ground on the $39 million "Taraxagum Lab Anklam" research and test laboratory in Anklam dedicated to developing the Russian dandelion as an alternative source of latex that could be processed into rubber.
The facility, being built in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, northern Germany, is set to become operational in the third quarter of 2018, creating 20 jobs.
Work at the laboratory will focus on the cultivation and processing of the Russian dandelion as an alternative to traditional rubber tree plantations in the tropics.
"We hope that, through improvements in dandelion cultivation and processing, we will in future be able to meet part of our natural rubber needs in a more sustainable way," said Boris Mergell, head of research and development, passenger/light truck Tires at Continental, at the ground-breaking ceremony.
Russian dandelion, Conti said, can be grown in temperate regions, including in Europe, and therefore substantially reducing the distances the raw material has to travel to its tire production sites.
Continental launched its research on replacing hevea-based natural rubber with material sourced from plants cultivated in temperate regions in 2011 in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute IME in Münster, the Julius Kühn Institute in Quedlinburg, and the plant breeder ESKUSA in Parkstetten.