Dandelions are modest plants that are an excellent alternative source for a raw material of high demand: natural rubber, the fundamental ingredient in rubber products. Fraunhofer researchers have established the basis for the large-scale production of high quality rubber with Russian dandelion. Approximately 40,000 products of everyday life contain natural rubber. It’s the material that provides extreme elasticity, tensile strength and low-temperature flexibility in products from mattresses and gloves to adhesive tape and tires. As yet, it has no artificial replacement. However, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Aachen were able to identify a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to the natural rubber tree: the dandelion.
For their work on the Russian dandelion and its application as a source of natural rubber, Prof. Dirk Prüfer, Dr. Christian Schulze Gronover and Dr. Carla Recker (Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH) are recipients of the 2015 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize.