Tyres from dandelions
With the aim of providing more environmentally friendly and highperformance products, Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) has been examining the potential of Russian dandelions as a new, alternative source of natural rubber that may one day replace the conventional source, Para rubber trees, or simply known as rubber trees.
SRI has announced joint research with Kultevat, an emerging American biotech company, towards finding practical applications for natural rubber derived from Russian dandelions.
Kultevat serves sustainable agricultural markets, primarily by the production of rubber and mixed sugar feed stocks for biofuels. Kultevat has vast experience in the commercial utilisation of plant materials to develop profitable, sustainable and environmentally-benign sources of rubber, and aims to reduce near-total dependence on foreign sources of rubber globally.
SRI believes the process can be accelerated through the combination of Kultevat’s biomass technology and the proprietary technologies that SRI has pioneered. These technologies have already found practical applications, such as the replacement of petroleumbased tyre materials with fossilresource free materials.
Unlike rubber trees, Russian dandelions can be grown in temperate regions, meaning their cultivation is possible throughout much of the world.
The research with Russian dandelions will promote greater use of natural resources and expand their regions of production, which will enable SRI to secure a reliable and efficient supply of natural raw materials at production bases around the world.
Ultimately this will allow SRI to provide a steady supply of high-performance tyres with low environmental impact to a broader market.
As global tyre demand continues to expand, SRI’s goals are to reduce the reliance on fossil resources such as petroleum and coal, which make up approximately 60 percent of a conventional tyre, and promote the use of sustainable natural resources.
The Russian dandelion research is not the first time SRI has looked for environmentally sustainable solutions.
SRI has also developed a 100 percent fossil resource-free tyre, dubbed the Enasave 100. Released to Japan in November 2013, it stands as the world’s first 100 percent fossil resource-free tyres made from all-natural resources (since the use of synthetic rubber became standard). It was a technical feat made possible thanks to SRI’s proprietary biomass technology, which has enabled SRI to successfully replace all of a tyre’s fossil-fuel materials with natural resources.
SRI has also been working on more efficient uses of natural resources and has developed Ultra-Pure Natural Rubber (UPNR).
This was engineered in pursuit of higher performance natural rubber. UPNR is already being used in the Enasave Next, SRI’s flagship fuelefficient tyre. The Enasave Next has received the highest possible AAA-a rating for rolling resistance and wet grip performance under Japan’s tyre labelling system.