A tire company is voluntarily planting a species of dandelion, as it looks to develop a rubber source that can be cultivated in U.S. soils.
The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, hoping to develop and commercialize a source of natural rubber, plans to plant Taraxacum kok-saghyz in Ohio this spring. The species, native to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, is one of the few plants the company has flagged as a potential source of tire-quality rubber.
"Global demand for natural rubber continues to grow, and it remains a key raw material for the tire industry," Chris Helsel, a senior vice president of global operations and chief technology officer for Goodyear, said in a release. "This is a critical time to develop a domestic source of natural rubber, which may help mitigate future supply chain challenges."
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More than 90% of the natural rubber produced in the world today is made using latex from rubber trees outside of the U.S., the release stated. The goal of the program is to create a source of latex that can be harvested every six months and grow in the temperate climate of the U.S.
Goodyear is working with Ohio-based Farmland Materials on the "multi-year, multi-million-dollar" project, which also has support from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Air Force Research Lab and BioMADE. The rubber produced will be used to produce tires for military aircraft.
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