Sumitomo Rubber Industries and American Biotechnology firm Kultevat Inc. have entered into an agreement to accelerate the research and development of Russian Dandelion (Taraxicum kok-saghya ) that will be used as an alternative of natural rubber in tyre manufacturing.
Currently, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd is highly dependent upon Hevea rubber plantations of Southeast Asia for sourcing of latex.
Kultevat Inc. is a biotechnology firm that caters to agricultural markets mainly for producing rubber and mixed sugar feedstock for bio-fuel market. This technology exchange will compliment Sumitomo’s efforts to develop environmentally-sustainable tyres. The outcome of this link-up is likely to result in development of tyres that will be 100 per cent fossil resource free, fuel-efficient and will include run-flat technology.
Sumitomo’s spokesperson said, “We are now examining the potential of Russian Dandelions as a new, alternative source of natural rubber to possibly replace the conventional source of natural rubber: Para rubber trees.”
Meanwhile, Kultevat is developing and testing different varieties of dandelion for increasing productivity of rubber in greenhouse and field trials in the US. through its partnership with Keygene Inc., a Holland-based plant-breeding firm.
Kultevat CEO Daniel Swiger said, “The firm’s commercialization strategy calls for the company to sell into specialty rubber markets at the outset while the company continues working with the Sumitomo Rubber Industries to develop products for their purposes. We have engaged a number of customers and are currently growing TKS for processing and rubber for prototype and testing purposes,” Swiger said. “We expect commercial sales of rubber beginning in 2016,” he added.
One of the main goals of Kultevat is to increase the yield of rubber by cultivating high productive varieties of dandelions (TKS) in various North American locations. The company is also focusing on development of green technologies for extracting the required product from the plant tissues.
“We expect the development of TKS as an economically-viable source of rubber will allow SRI to provide a steady supply of high-performance tyres with low environmental impact to a greater number of customers in the future,” said SRI President Ikuji Ikeda.