Plant shows potential to produce tire-grade rubber
TOKYO (May 17, 2012) – Bridgestone Corporation (Bridgestone), today announced that recent research conducted by Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (Bridgestone Americas) has produced promising results indicating that the Russian Dandelion can become a commercially viable, renewable source of high-quality, tire-grade rubber.
Bridgestone Americas is one of several collaborators taking part in the Russian Dandelion project being led by PENRA – the Program for Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives – based at the Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. The company’s specific role in the project is to scrutinize the performance of the rubber produced by using natural rubber extracted from Russian Dandelion.
“We know that there are more than 1,200 types of plants from which natural rubber could in theory be harvested, but finding one that could practically produce the quality and amount of rubber needed to meet the demands of today’s tire market is a challenge,” said Dr. Hiroshi Mouri, President, Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology. “Bridgestone continues to dedicate substantial resources to finding sustainable alternatives for the natural rubber needed to manufacture tires and other high-quality rubber products, and we’re excited about this potentially game-changing discovery with the Russian Dandelion.”
Bridgestone subsidiaries will conduct additional testing on Russian Dandelion-harvested natural rubber at their technical labs in Akron and Tokyo this summer, with larger scale testing to follow in 2014.
This news comes on the heels of a March 2012 announcement that outlined a project to research and develop Guayule, a shrub native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, as an alternative to natural rubber harvested from rubber trees (also known as Hevea trees). For that project, Bridgestone Americas is establishing a pilot farm and constructing a rubber process research center in the southwestern United States.
Russian Dandelion and Guayule have almost identical qualities compared to natural rubber harvested from the Hevea tree, which is currently the primary source for the natural rubber used in tires.
This new project, as well as the Guayule project, is being undertaken by Bridgestone Americas in collaboration with Bridgestone. Bridgestone is providing the funding and strategic input for these projects while Bridgestone Americas is responsible for their execution. Bridgestone Americas is leveraging the resources of the Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology and the Americas Technical Center in Akron, Ohio to provide technical and research support for the projects.
With the demand for tires expected to continue increasing in the near and long term, the Bridgestone Group has embraced its responsibility to develop technologies and business practices that encourage conservation of finite natural resources. Through separate and unique efforts such as the Russian Dandelion and Guayule research projects, the Bridgestone Group is working to develop tires using 100% sustainable materials (renewable and recyclable resources). Bridgestone is involved in other efforts to develop technologies and processes that reduce, reuse and recycle resources as well as projects to develop concept tires made from 100% sustainable materials and expects to share additional information about those projects in the future. You can learn more about all of Bridgestone’s environmental activities worldwide at Bridgestone’s website. To learn more about the PENRA Russian Dandelion project, visit PENRA Website.
* Note: Russian Dandelion (botanical name: Taraxacum kok-saghyz, or TKS) is a different species than the Common Dandelion frequently found in the U.S. and other areas (botanical name: Taraxacum officinale).