Weed ’em and reap

dandelionWhen homeowners see dandelions sprouting they usually start thinking of ways to get rid of the weed, but researchers at Ford and The Ohio State University see a plant that can serve as a new sustainable resource for rubber.

Not all dandelions can be used as a sustainable resource for rubber though. The suitable species is the Russian dandelion that deposits a milky-white substance from its roots which is used to produce the rubber. This dandelion is being grown at The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center.

“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 minimise its use in our vehicles when possible. Dandelions have the potential to serve as a great natural alternative to synthetic rubber in our products.”

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.

Before the dandelion-derived rubber can be put to use, Ford researchers will assess the initial quality of the material to ensure it meets its tough durability standards.

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