Goodyear working with DoD, AFRL, BioMADE and Farmed Materials to accelerate commercialization of natural rubber from dandelions
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is collaborating with the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and BioMADE to work with Ohio-based Farmed Materials in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar program to develop a domestic source of natural rubber from a specific species of dandelion.
Natural rubber has been classified as a strategic raw material that serves as a critical ingredient in military, aircraft and truck tires. Today, more than 90% of the world’s natural rubber is made from latex derived from rubber trees and is primarily sourced from tropical locations outside of the US.
The program will build on research that analyzed more than 2,500 species of plants but found only a few with properties suitable for use in tires. Taraxacum kok-saghyz, a species of dandelion known as TK, has proven to be a valuable alternative to natural rubber trees.
The roots of Taraxacum kok-saghyz, a species of dandelion known as TK that has proven to be a valuable alternative to natural rubber trees. Photo credit: Farmed Materials.
Farmed Materials has shown initial positive results in pilot programs for TK, yielding strong harvests that necessitate the need for additional planting and funding.
While rubber trees typically take seven years to produce the latex needed for rubber production, dandelions can be harvested every six months. TK dandelions are also resilient and can grow in more temperate climates, such as Ohio.
Backed by the DoD, the collaboration of Goodyear, BioMADE and Farmed Materials will accelerate commercialization of TK, beginning in the spring of 2022 with the planting and harvesting of TK seeds in Ohio. The natural rubber produced will be used in the production of military aircraft tires that will be built and tested under rigorous applications by Goodyear in cooperation with the AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
If additional testing provides promising results, Goodyear sees potential for the application of TK rubber to be used in all tire applications.
p>BioMADE is one of nine Department of Defense-sponsored Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, which anticipate and close gaps in manufacturing capabilities to realize affordable, timely and low-risk defense systems. Through funding, action, and engagement, BioMADE supports the development of biomanufacturing technologies to strengthen American competitiveness; create a more robust, resilient, and bio-based supply chain; and help the US become more self-sufficient.
Farmed Materials develops and commercializes agriculturally derived, sustainable, high-performance polymers.