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Goodyear to use dandelions to make tyres

Goodyear is collaborating with Ohio-based Farmed Materials to develop a domestic source of natural rubber from a specific species of dandelion.

Natural rubber has been classified as a strategic raw material that serves as a critical ingredient in truck tyres, as well as military and aircraft tyres. Today, more than 90 per cent of the world’s natural rubber is made from latex derived from rubber trees and is primarily sourced from tropical locations outside of the United States.

The program will build on research that analysed more than 2,500 species of plants but found only a few with properties suitable for use in tyres. Taraxacum kok-saghyz, a species of dandelion known as TK, has proven to be a valuable alternative to natural rubber trees, according to Goodyear.

Farmed Materials has shown initial “positive” results in pilot programs for TK, yielding strong harvests that necessitate the need for additional planting and funding.

“Global demand for natural rubber continues to grow, and it remains a key raw material for the tyre industry,” said Chris Helsel, senior vice president Global Operations and chief technology officer for Goodyear. “This is a critical time to develop a domestic source of natural rubber, which may help mitigate future supply chain challenges.”

While rubber trees typically take seven years to produce the latex needed for rubber production, dandelions can be harvested every six months. TK dandelions are also resilient and can grow in more temperate climates, such as Ohio.

Goodyear says this “multi-year, multi-million-dollar program” is backed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and BioMADE.

It adds that the natural rubber produced will be used in the production of military aircraft tyres that will be built and tested under rigorous applications by Goodyear.

If additional testing provides promising results, Goodyear says it sees potential for the application of TK rubber to be used in all tyre applications