Apollo Vredestein, an Indian-Dutch company, rolled out the first prototype tires produced from European-grown dandelion derived rubber in July this year. If tests go well, they hope to start full production in 2015.
A species of Russian dandelion, a widely distributed weed of the daisy family, is set to become one of the most important plants on the planet, propping up civilization with rubber made from the glutinous, milky sap found in its roots.
The dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), is one of three plants currently being investigated by various international consortia, made up of government agencies, big business and scientific research establishments that are trying to find alternatives to natural rubber, according to the Telegraph.
Native to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and discovered in 1931, TKS is a foot-tall yellow-flowered dandelion. It can grow in a range of soils, but prefers the cool conditions of its homeland and similar locations, such as northern Europe.
Around 80% of the world’s supply of natural rubber is derived from Hevea brasiliensis plantations in South America, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and the remainder is synthetic rubber derived from fossil fuels. As demand fuelled by the rise of Brazil, China and India is heavily outstripping the existing supply, researchers have begun testing rubber derived from the Russian Dandelion instead.