The goal at Continental is to exclusively obtain natural rubber for its tyres from responsible sources as of 2030. Confirmation of responsible sourcing is essential to natural rubber’s status as a sustainable raw material, and gaining this confirmation requires traceability within the supply chain. Although completely seamless traceability is currently technically impossible, Continental says it is “working at full speed” on a blueprint for the sustainable and responsible structuring of natural rubber supply chains.
On Wednesday, Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced the winner of the 2021 Deutscher Zukunftspreis (German Future Prize), an accolade bestowed upon those promoting technology and innovation within the country. This year the award went, perhaps predictably, to the research team at Biontech for their work developing Pfizer’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine, but the awards event also honoured research into finding a viable substitute for the rubber from the Pará tree.
Research into the use of locally sourced rubber in tyre manufacture has led to Continental’s Dr Carla Recker being nominated for a prestigious award in her native Germany. Together with fellow researchers Prof. Dr Dirk Prüfer from the University of Münster and Dr Christian Schulze Gronover from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Recker has been shortlisted for the ‘Deutscher Zukunftspreis 2021’, an award for technology and innovation bestowed by Germany’s President.
The miniscule pieces of plant root that Dr Tobias Ruckert shows us look for all the world like fresh spices, but the recipes he prepares with them aren’t for eating. These roots are from the Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS) plant, better known as Russian dandelion. Continental has been evaluating its suitability as an alternative source of natural rubber for much of the past decade.
For a number of years, Continental’s Tire division has collaborated with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Münster, Germany and the University of Münster’s Institute for Plant Biology and Biotechnology (IBBP) to develop rubber from dandelions that is suitable for series tyre production. The scientists heading the ‘Rubin – Industrial Emergence of Natural Rubber from Dandelion’ project have now been awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for their research into Russian dandelion and the development of prototype passenger car tyres that used dandelion-derived rubber. The award was presented yesterday in Wiesbaden, Germany, to IME’s Professor Dr Dirk Prüfer, IBBP’s Dr Christian Schulze Gronover and Continental’s Dr Carla Recker.
The ‘Rubin’ project jointly conducted by Continental and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) has been honoured with a GreenTec Award. A 60-member jury panel determined the two parties’ work on producing natural rubber from dandelions worthy of a 2014 award in the ‘Automobility’ category. The awards ceremony took place in Munich, Germany on 4 May at the start of the IFAT environmental technology trade show. A total of 14 awards were given out.