“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.”
Not just any dandelions, though:
The suitable species for this project is the Russian dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz, which is being grown at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). A milky-white substance that seeps from the roots of this species of dandelion is used to produce the rubber.
Of course, the real advantage of using a dandelion for synthetic rubber is that it’s not particularly hard to cultivate. I put absolutely no effort into the ones I grow (albeit the wrong variety, alas).