At the moment natural rubber is exclusively harvested from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) of which about 90% is grown in South East Asia. In an earlier research project coordinated by the same organisation, EU-PEARLS, the potential of two new natural rubber crops was investigated. This project demonstrated the viability of a new natural rubber production from Russian dandelion (Taraxacum koksaghyz, TKS).
DRIVE4EU will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the use of Rubber dandelion as a production platform for both natural rubber and inulin. The inulin can be used as the raw material for interesting green chemicals, such as furan-based polymers. The common name Russian dandelion for Taraxacum koksaghyz is actually not fitting very well since TKS originates from Kazakhstan and can also be found in specific areas of China and Kirghizstan. Therefore the name ‘Rubber dandelion’ is used in this project. The combination of rubber and inulin makes Rubber dandelion very interesting as a production platform.
The main objectives of DRIVE4EU are:
The DRIVE4EU consortium consists of eight industrial partners and five research organizations from six EU countries and Kazakhstan that bring together a wide knowledge and expertise, from bioscience to product development.
Outline of production chain for rubber and inulin, presenting the main activities in the production chain and in DRIVE4EU (WP tasks). Corresponding WP numbers are given in brackets.