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SRI and Kultevat begin research into Russian dandelions as a new source of natural rubber

With the ongoing aim of producing environmentally friendly and more powerful products, tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) has entered into a joint research project with US biotech company Kultevat to investigate the potential of utilising Russian dandelions as an alternative source of natural rubber, which may one day replace the conventional source of natural rubber, the rubber tree.

As the global tyre demand rises steadily, SRI has the objective of reducing the usage of fossil resources such as oil and coal, which account for approximately 60 percent of a conventional tyre. The increased use of sustainable natural resources plays an important role.

Currently, around 90 percent of the world’s demand for natural rubber is produced in Asia. As SRI looks to expand its worldwide tyre manufacturing network, it is seeking a more eco-friendly supply due to the serious environmental consequences of the transportation of rubber. In order to achieve this, SRI is examining the potential of Russian dandelions as a new, alternative source of high-performance products on a global scale.

Unlike the rubber tree, the Russian dandelion can be grown in temperate regions, including North America and many other parts of the world. SRI believes that this joint research will promote the greater use of natural raw materials and their production will expand to other regions. Therefore, a reliable, efficient and more environmentally-friendly natural resource can be utilised in production plants around the world, allowing SRI to deliver high-performance tyres for an increasing number of customers with a lower environmental impact.

From its range of environmentally-friendly tyres, the ENSAVE 100, which was launched in November 2013, was the world’s first* tyre manufactured from 100 percent natural raw materials without the use of fossil fuels.

SRI’s latest project is partnered with Kultevat, a US-based biotech company. The company serves sustainable agricultural markets, primarily through the production of rubber as well as sugar-based feedstocks for the biofuel market. Kultevat has extensive experience in the commercial use of plant materials viable for the development of sustainable and environmentally-friendly sources of rubber.

* Since the use of synthetic rubber became standard in the tyre industry (according to SRI in-house research).

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