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These Tires Are Made from Dandelions and Soy

Companies are experimenting with rubber alternatives, turning to things like dandelions and soybeans to build their wheels.

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This little guy might one day become a tire. Image: juehuayin

When you make a list of all the things you want out of a set of tires, you’ll probably come up with things like: durability, strength, efficiency. Now what if I told you that some companies are finding that durability, strength and efficiency by making their tires out of dandelions.

No, this isn’t a Dr. Seuss story, it’s a real line of environmentally friendly tires in europe. The rubber in the tires is made from guayule and russian dandelions. While they’re not entirely road ready, the tires are being tested as we speak.

Gizmag explains why dandelions, and other alternatives to rubber are important:

There are no synthetic alternatives to natural rubber (although some people areworking on this). However, considering how far-reaching its application is (from medical products to condoms), it is sensible to find alternatives to break away from the Asian market dominance, as supplies are shrinking and prices increasing. Guayule is already a source of biomass in Spain, but the study found that it is easier to extract rubber from Russian dandelion. Researchers have looked into ways to accelerate its growth rate and increase its output.

Recently, another rubber alternative was proposed by Goodyear, which is working on making tires out of soybean oil. Digital Trends reports:

Research has shown that soybean oil-based tire tread lasts 10-percent longer than its traditional counterpart, and that it blends better during the manufacturing process too, which according to the press blurb will “improve plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption.”

These alternatives have other perks too, according to Gizmag:

There are other advantages linked to these alternatives, besides the monopoly issue. Hevea brasiliensis is vulnerable to several pests and it depends on very specific climate conditions that are exclusive to tropical zones. Besides, guayule and Russian dandelion do not cause allergic reactions, which is also a problem associated with Hevea.

No word yet on whether the tires smell any nicer.

 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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