Apollo Vredestein reports it is involved in research into sources of natural rubber as a partner in the EU-PEARLS project, which seeks to find a European alternative to natural rubber from the rubber tree.
In many applications, it is not possible to simply replace natural rubber with a synthetic variant. The tiremaker said natural rubber is currently extracted from the rubber tree, which grows mostly in Asia, and is sensitive to diseases like South American Leaf Blight, which would drastically increase the world rubber deficit. Rising demand and a falling number of providers have led to a growing shortage of natural rubber, the company added.
To reduce dependence on the rubber tree, the EU-PEARLS joint project was formed between several European research organizations and industrial partners. Research focuses on research into two plants, the Russian dandelion and the desert plant guayule. The goal is to make it possible to produce natural rubber in Europe by finding suitable conditions for the growth of these plants in the continent, optimizing the yield and quality of the natural rubber, and designing ideal extraction methods, Apollo Vredestein said.
Initial studies show that both the Russian dandelion and guayule are a good alternative to the rubber tree in terms of their properties. Guayule is already used to produce biomass on a large scale in Spain. The rubber from the Russian dandelion appears to be easier to extract, however. In the coming period, research will focus on the optimization of the growth development and growth speed of the Russian dandelion so as to increase its content of natural rubber available for extraction, the tiremaker reported.
For more information, visit www.eu-pearls.eu