Ray Bradbury Would Be Amused*
No, the issue here is not something that has happened on Mars, nor does it relate to book-burning.
Rather, automotive supplier Continental and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) have announced that they are “on the verge of a breakthrough” in which they will be able to produce high-grade natural rubber that can be used to produce tires. . .from dandelion roots.
Dr. Boris Mergell, head of Material and Process and Development for Tires at Continental, said, “With this dandelion project, we are taking a huge step forward on the path to our long-term goal of manufacturing tires for cars, trucks and bicycles, as well as specialist tires, completely without any fossil materials. If we can successfully manage to produce large amounts of dandelion rubber with at least equivalent performance properties to conventional rubber harvested from rubber trees, then we will be able to put ourselves in a position where we are much less dependent on the annual harvest situation in the subtropical growing regions.”
Indeed, they are considering massive growing fields in Europe.
They’ve started construction of a pilot facility that can produce natural rubber by the ton in an IME facility in Münster, Germany.
These are not just randomly growing dandelions. IME project manager professor Dirk Prüfer, said, “We have built up a great deal of expertise in the field of dandelion cultivation in recent years. Thanks to DNA marker technology, we now know which gene is responsible for which molecular property. This enables us to grow particularly high-yield plants much more efficiently.”
*The Bradbury connection? The 1957 novel, Dandelion Wine.
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