Russian Dandelion – Root Rubber

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This gas-tight cover on part of an on-farm AD processing plant is made from”rubber” and it is getting a bit short and global supplies are under threat.

The world is getting short of natural rubber for two reasons.  Firstly, we are all driving more cars. Secondly, fungal diseases in South America are making rubber tree cultivation there die back significantly.  Fortunately, we can produce natural rubber latex from the Russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz).  The latex is slightly different from the latex from the rubber tree (Hevea brasileansis). In some uses it is slightly better, in some uses slightly not so good. In commercial reality, this is a potentially large scale substitute for tree latex rubber and it can be grown in Europe. There is a lot of work to do before it is commercial but here is a good example why we need to avoid species getting extinct – we might need any and every one, one day.

 Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 22 October 2016