By Gary Thomas
The first tyre prototypes manufactured from natural rubber made in Europe have been produced by Apollo Vredestein, a Dutch tyre company, which is a partner in the European project, EU-PEARLS.
The fact that the first tyre prototypes have been produced is testimony to the economic potential and technical performance of the extracted rubber. The prototypes will be subjected to a series of tests in the future months before steps are taken for commencement of production.
The EU-PEARLS European project was founded four years ago with the objective of seeking alternative rubber and latex sources for Europe and hence minimizing the reliance on the Asian market for this resource and encourages the cultivation of latex-producing plants in the EU. The funding of the project has been done by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission and partners from eight countries developed the same, Neiker-Tecnalia research centre being one of them.
NEIKER-Tecnalia has been entrusted the task of researching the genotyping of two species set apart for the substitution of imported natural latex and the chance of enabling their entry to Europe; the Russian dandelion plant and the guayele. The Guayele is considered as a highly promising crop to be cultivated in the Mediterranean region and the Russian dandelion is suitable for the eastern and northern European countries.
The current research is aimed at optimizing the development and speed of growth of the Russian dandelion to improve its natural rubber content available for extraction. Also, latex from the guayele or the Russian dandelion does not cause latex allergy.
The research results will be presented on 24 and 25 September during the EU-PEARLS European project conference in Wageningen (Netherlands).