Continental opens laboratory dedicated to dandelion rubber
ANKLAM, Germany — Continental A.G. has inaugurated its laboratory in Anklam for research into the production of rubber from the Russian dandelion, one year after breaking ground on the 323,000-sq.-ft. facility.
The Taraxagum Lab Anklam, which represents an investment of nearly $40 million, is dedicated to the study of dandelion rubber farming and extraction methods, working toward producing an alternative to traditional rubber tree plantations in the tropics.
It will employ 20 individuals who have backgrounds in agricultural sciences, chemistry, production and process technology.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs for the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania provided about $13 million in support of the project, noting that the funding was an investment in high-quality jobs and the expansion of opportunities for regional farmers.
"We are fully convinced of this project, which has the potential to shape the future of the region," Harry Glawe, minister of economics, employment and health of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said during the opening ceremony.
"The new research laboratory is an important step toward future-oriented workplaces in Western Pomerania. It is our goal that with the success of the research project a production plant for natural rubber arises."
Nikolai Setzer, a member of the Continental board and head of its Tire division, noted that the company intends to use dandelion rubber routinely within the next 10 years. The ultimate goal, he added, is for Taraxagum-branded products to meet a significant part of the company's natural rubber requirement.
"We see Russian dandelion as an important alternative and complement to conventional natural rubber from hevea brasiliensis to allow us to meet rising global demand in an environmentally compatible and reliable way," Mr. Setzer said.
Continental was the first tire maker to invest significantly in the industrialization of dandelion latex-based rubber, having earmarked more than $2.25 billion into the research and development of the NR alternative since 2011.
The company presented a sample winter tire featuring a dandelion rubber tread in 2014 and a truck tire with a tread made from Taraxagum in 2016.
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