Bridgestone Corp. reports that recent research conducted by its Bridgestone Americas operations may indicate that the Russian dandelion can become a commercially viable, renewable source of high-quality, tire-grade rubber.
Bridgestone Americas is one of several collaborators taking part in the Russian dandelion project being led by PENRA – the Program for Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives – based at Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. The company’s specific role in the project is to scrutinize the performance of the rubber produced by using natural rubber extracted from Russian dandelion.
“We know that there are more than 1,200 types of plants from which natural rubber could in theory be harvested, but finding one that could practically produce the quality and amount of rubber needed to meet the demands of today’s tire market is a challenge,” said Dr. Hiroshi Mouri, president of Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology.
“Bridgestone continues to dedicate substantial resources to finding sustainable alternatives for the natural rubber needed to manufacture tires and other high-quality rubber products, and we’re excited about this potentially game-changing discovery with the Russian dandelion.”
Bridgestone subsidiaries will conduct additional testing on Russian dandelion-harvested natural rubber at their technical labs in Akron and Tokyo this summer, with larger scale testing to follow in 2014.
This news follows a March 2012 announcement that outlined a project to research and develop Guayule, a shrub native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, as an alternative to natural rubber harvested from rubber trees (also known as Hevea trees). For that project, Bridgestone Americas is establishing a pilot farm and constructing a rubber process research center in the southwestern U.S.
According to the company, Russian dandelion and guayule have almost identical qualities compared to natural rubber harvested from the Hevea tree, which is currently the primary source for the natural rubber used in tires.
Both this new project and the Guayule project are being undertaken by Bridgestone Americas in collaboration with Bridgestone. Bridgestone is providing the funding and strategic input for these projects while Bridgestone Americas is responsible for their execution.
Cooper, Continental, Ford and most recently Apollo Vredestein have all committed to similar or related research. (Tyres & Accessories)
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