What better to provide the basis of a renewable source for rubber than a plant that grows abundantly and quickly? Ford and the Ohio State University are looking into using the white milky substance that flows through dandelion roots as the basis of a new sustainable rubber.
The rubber could be used as the basis of various rubber and plastic parts in cars, such as interior trim and floor mats.
“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,” explains Angela Harris, a Ford research engineer. Regular synthetic plastics aren't particularly kind on the environment so Ford is looking to replace them with sustainable versions.
Ford is going to assess the dandelion-based rubber for its suitability in a selection of components before giving it the go-ahead for production, ensuring it is durable enough for the heavy usage vehicle components are subjected to.
You wouldn't think it, but there are actually several species of dandelion, and only a select few are suitable for turning into rubber. The project is using a Russain species, Taraxacum kok-saghyz. Like all dandelions though, it's easy enough to grow.
The research is another step in Ford's "Reduce, Re-use and Recycle" commitment to a more sustainable future.