Today, let’s recall some childhood memories! Who has never played with a flower commonly known as dandelion, or blowball, and more scientifically speaking as Taraxacum kok-saghyz or TKS? Don’t be afraid! We aren’t going to talk about its use in herbal therapy or as dressing for salads. Instead, we wish to tell you how BKT tires are about to become even more sustainable thanks to this plant.
You wonder how this works? Well, BKT has recently signed an agreement with Kultevat, a leading US biotechnology company specialized in the cultivation and processing of Russian dandelion (TKS) as a renewable and sustainable alternative for natural rubber. Go on reading to learn more about it.
BKT research in the field of innovative and sustainable materials has reached dandelions. Using blowballs to manufacture tires, actually, is not a sheer novelty. Already in the past, Russian dandelion was used during a period of rubber shortage in Europe after World War II. However, its use became forgotten after the invention of synthetic rubber. Thanks to advanced biotechnology and environmentally friendly processes, Kultevat is able to supply TKS rubber in bulk.
On the basis of this joint research agreement, BKT will develop new compounding methods involving TKS rubber to be integrated as a new, renewable and sustainable raw material into the manufacturing process for Off-Highway tires. All studies, analyses and experimentation will be carried out at BKTS’s recently inaugurated, modern Research and Development Center also known as “Suresh Poddar Innovation Hub” in Bhuj, India. The purpose is to get the highest performance for the specific requirements in a wide range of applications in the agricultural, earthmoving, port and mining and industrial sectors.
You might wonder what the point is about manufacturing rubber from such an unconventional source rather than taking it from Hevea brasilensis (natural rubber plant) as it has been done for two centuries.
Well, there are some major issues about Hevea. One is the long lead time, which means that crops need at least 6 to 8 years before they can be harvested the first time. In addition, there is land scarcity for plantation in Equatorial Zone. Results are poor when trying to plant it in other climate zones. The global request for natural rubber will lead to a dead end in a very short time.
The importance of finding suitable alternatives has also been highlighted by the European Commission which placed for the first time natural rubber on their list of critical materials in 2017. This highlights the fundamental importance of the research project on TKS rubber.
In other words, BKT is a front runner when it comes to finding tire solutions that offer more performance, more efficiency and more care for the environment!
Back to the beginning. Would you ever, ever have imagined that the dandelion flower with its tiny little parachutes flying away when you puff on the blowball would one day become a raw material for tires? It’s hard to believe, but nothing is impossible for BKT!