The judges of the d&i awards 2020, which are presented in association with the Taipei Cycle Show in Taiwan, have honoured Continental with their highest accolade. They awarded the d&i Golden Award to the Continental Urban Taraxagum, praising both the tyre’s production from locally-sourced dandelion rubber as well as its tread and sidewall design. The Taipei Cycle Show itself had to be cancelled on account of the coronavirus pandemic but the awards were nevertheless presented.
Locally-sourced alternatives to natural rubber, such as Continental’s ‘Taraxagum’ Russian dandelion project, look set to benefit from new government policy in Germany. Yesterday, the German cabinet approved its ‘Nationale Bioökonomiestrategie’ (National Bioeconomy Strategy). This brings together existing bioeconomy strategies and paves the way for further development in this area, including funding for research.
In Anklam, near Germany’s Baltic coast, Continental is setting up a centre to oversee its efforts to industrialise rubber sourced from Russian dandelions for use in tyre production. Groundbreaking on the Taraxagum Lab Anklam facility took place last November, and Continental reports that the first machine for extracting rubber from the roots of the Russian dandelion plant was installed several days ago.
The Taraxagum research project into the use of rubber from Russian dandelions in tyres has led to Continental and Professor Dirk Prüfer from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology being awarded the University of Münster’s Transfer Prize. Continental shares that the €10,000 prize was awarded for the successful transfer of expertise from biotechnology research to commercial application.
Instead of just finding dandelions growing in fields, we may soon also find them in the tyres of tractors and other agricultural vehicles that traverse these fields. Balkrishna Industries Limited (BKT) sees a future for these plants as a material within the tyres it makes; it recently entered into a joint research agreement with US biotechnology company Kultevat, Inc. to develop new compounding methods based on TKS/Russian dandelion rubber, with the aim of integrating these into its tyre manufacturing process.
With sods of soil sliding from shiny shovels, work on the Continental ‘Taraxagum Lab Anklam’ research and test laboratory officially began on Monday. Construction of the facility will now begin in earnest, and Continental Reifen Deutschland anticipates that the lab, based near Germany’s Baltic coast, will be operational in autumn 2018. Continental is investing a total of 35 million euros in the project, a sum supported by a subsidy of 11.6 million euros from the Ministry of Economics in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
For the past six years, Continental has worked with partners on projects to source rubber from Russian dandelions for its tyre production. In 2016, the company announced plans to establish a new facility for industrialising this process. A seven-acre site in Anklam, not far from Germany’s Baltic coast, was selected for this research laboratory. The tyre maker now reports that groundbreaking for the 35 million-euro initial phase of its Taraxagum Lab Anklam will take place this coming Monday.
Continental reports that plans to establish a research facility for its ‘Taraxagum’ Russian dandelion rubber project in Anklam, Germany have gained council approval. With this box ticked, the tyre maker is now in the process of acquiring around seven and a half acres (3 hectares) of land in a local business park and obtaining a building permit prior to erecting the first building on the site.