The tire industry uses up two-thirds of the world’s rubber supply, and it depends on very few countries in Southeast Asia to grow the rubber tree for raw materials. A Dutch biologist believes she and her team may have found a sustainable alternative to rubber — dandelion.
Dandelion-based rubber would give the tire industry a better handle on rubber supplies. According to an MSN article, brands like Bridgestone and Continental are putting millions into this research.
The taproot of a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan is said to produce a fluid that contains tire-grade rubber particles. Unlike tropical rubber trees, dandelions are a pretty tough plant. As anyone who’s ever put up a strong fight with these weeds knows, they grow in any soil and climate. Although rubber trees originated in South America, a fungus made it impossible for them to be reestablished there. Some scientists worry that the same thing could happen in Southeast Asia.
Although it’s doubtful dandelions will ever fully replace rubber trees, they could still be an excellent, natural substitute. Should fungus or any other force threaten rubber tree supplies or rubber cost, U.S. companies would be able to cheaply produce this substitute right here at home.
How do you feel about dandelion tires? We want to know!