Commercial dandelion production the goal of new Continental lab
A new research facility for industrialising the cultivation and processing of rubber harvested from Russian dandelions will be set up in Germany as part of Continental’s plan to bring tyres containing this rubber to market under the ‘Taraxagum’ brand name. On 12 August, the company presented plans to establish such a facility in Anklam, near the Baltic Sea island of Usedom. Continental will operate the Taraxagum Lab Anklam in collaboration with the IME Fraunhofer Institute, Julius Kühn Institute, Quedlinburg, and plant breeding specialist firm Eskusa GmbH.
Continental says it chose Anklam to host the project after “careful consideration.” It plans to invest around €35 million in the first phase of the project and the centre will initially employ some 20 people, however the company adds that a rubber production facility will be set up at a later date if the project’s initial phase is successful.
“The construction of the Taraxagum Lab Anklam is part of the consistent implementation of our Vision 2025 long-term growth strategy, which involves huge investments in our manufacturing and research capacities,” shares Burkhardt Köller, head of Controlling within Continental’s Tire division and chairman of the Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH management board. “In the last five years, we have invested more than €3 billion in building new plants and expanding the capacity of our existing plants worldwide. Furthermore, the unique Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer (AIBA) at our Contidrom proving ground and the High Performance Technology Center (HPTC) in Korbach, which opened in June, demonstrate the ongoing intensification of our technological focus. With the new research facility in Anklam, we want to show that we are also adopting innovative and sustainable approaches in the field of raw materials.”
“I’m happy that global player Continental has selected our federal state and is setting up in the Western Pomerania region,” comments Harry Glawe, minister for Economic Affairs in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. “Initial investment focus will primarily be in research and development. This will serve as the foundation for further growth and jobs within the region. The goal of this proposed development is the sustainable use of dandelions as a local and regional raw material. The commercialisation of the cultivation and utilisation of Russian dandelions is expected to take place at the site in the mid-term.”
“With the Taraxagum Lab Anklam we have now reached a milestone in the ‘Taraxagum – tyres from dandelion rubber’ project,” says Dr Andreas Topp, head of tyre material and process development and industrialisation at Continental. “This exciting project has already shown much promise. A small batch of Taraxagum test tyres featuring treads made from pure dandelion rubber was evaluated against conventional tyres made from natural rubber from the hevea brasiliensis tree, and the results were extremely positive. Now we want to drive forward the commercial production of Taraxagum, and with the new research facility in Anklam we are laying the foundations for this.”
Continental began developing Taraxagum in collaboration with its partners some five years ago. Initial experiments centred upon winter car tyres and engine mounts produced with the material.