Ford, OSU study using dandelions to make rubber

May 11, 2011

Dandelions might be a new sustainable resource for rubber, according to researchers at Ford Motor Co. and The Ohio State University who have investigating a specific species of the ubiquitous weed.

The species is the Russian dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz, which is being grown at OSU´s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. A milky-white substance that seeps from the roots of this species of dandelion is used to produce the rubber.

Ford could potentially use the substance as a plastics modifier, to help improve the impact strength of plastics. The material might then be used in places such as cupholders, floor mats and interior trim if it meet the automaker´s durability standards.

"We´re always looking for new sustainable materials to use in our vehicles that have a smaller carbon footprint to produce and can be grown locally," said Angela Harris, Ford research engineer. "Synthetic rubber is not a sustainable resource, so we want to minimize its use in our vehicles when possible. Dandelions have the potential to serve as a great natural alternative to synthetic rubber in our products."

Source: Waste & Recycling News

By Chrissy Kadleck