By Oliver Hall
Car tyres could be made from dandelions if research into extracting the rubber content of some species of the weed are successful.
It is a development that would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of tyres manufacture because dandelions, unlike oil, are renewable.
According to The Economist, a Russian variety of the plant produces rubber molecules that can perform the same tasks as the gum extracted from more traditional rubber plants, but with the advantage that dandelions grow far more quickly.
Although only a fifth of a modern car tyre is made from natural rubber, the material is superior to the synthetic type made from oil and less subject to the price fluctuations of a barrel of crude.
If experiments to improve the yield of dandelions are successful – they’re currently being pursued in the US and Germany – then oil could gradually be displaced by natural rubber as the major component in the make-up of a tyre.