As electric vehicles go mainstream, and internal combustion engines are no longer the go-to for the automotive industry, another part of the car is undergoing its own changes: the tire.
Earlier this year, Goodyear unveiled a 70% sustainable tire made from soybeans, rice husk ash, plastic waste, and other eco-friendly materials. It marked the company’s journey over the halfway point to creating a completely sustainable tire that could replace the petroleum-based materials that have been used for decades.
Now, the innovative minds at the firm have found a new domestic source of natural rubber that could lessen the dependence on rubber trees located in tropical countries, which are highly susceptible to supply chain woes.
Backed by the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and BioMADE, Goodyear worked together with Ohio-based Farmed Materials to harvest a particular species of dandelion—the Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TK)—that could be a valuable alternative to natural rubber trees.
“Global demand for natural rubber continues to grow, and it remains a key raw material for the tire industry,” explained Chris Helsel, Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Goodyear.
“This is a crucial time to develop a domestic source of natural rubber, which may help mitigate future supply chain challenges,” he added.
Importantly, dandelions grow much quicker than rubber trees, only requiring six months to be harvested, as compared to the latter’s seven years. Furthermore, dandelions are more resilient and are able to flourish in temperate climates throughout America.
The natural rubber produced from the plant will be first be used for military aircraft tires, undergoing the most rigorous test possible. If results are positive, we could soon see dandelions as part of all Goodyear’s future tires.
This content was originally published here.