Natural sustainable rubber
By breeding and cultivating dandelions
The roots of some dandelions are suitable for the extraction of natural rubber. Unlike synthetic rubber, this product is entirely biodegradable. Dandelion rubber also has a smaller footprint compared with rubber extracted from rubber trees.
Producing natural rubber from dandelions will reduce the production of rubber from rubber trees, sparing tropical rainforests. Dandelions can be grown and harvested close to the rubber factories, which will greatly reduce the transport footprint.
Pooling of expertise
Lion-Flex uses the breeding knowledge and expertise of Barenbrug and plant research company KeyGene. The latter has been working on improving dandelions to raise rubber yields, as a sustainable alternative to rubber from rubber trees, for more than ten years.
Rubber from dandelions
Rubber is an essential product in modern society. Apart from rubber bands, car tyres and condoms, natural rubber is also used in at least 50,000 other products. We are talking about rubber from trees here. Demand for this rubber is still on the rise, while production is under pressure due to, among other things, the fungus Microcyclus ulei. This fungus has destroyed most rubber tree plantations in South America.
Unfortunately, the environmental impact of the rubber industry is fairly significant. Plantations thrive in tropical areas, where jungles must give way to new rubber trees. Brazil is particularly known for this, although the same process is also underway in Asia. Moreover, this rubber production method causes soil, air and water pollution, and working conditions on the plantations are often very poor.
Fortunately, there is a sustainable alternative: rubber production from dandelion roots. Lion-Flex breeds, cultivates, processes and sells this natural product.
Some dandelions contain rubber genes that encourage the roots to produce rubber. After harvesting, natural rubber can be extracted from the roots. Lion-Flex focuses on breeding and cultivating dandelions and extracting natural rubber from the roots, with the aim of selling this natural rubber to customers who value sustainability highly.
Rubber is an essential material in our daily lives. A near endless list of products contain natural or synthetic rubber: from car and bicycle tyres to shoe soles, and from latex gloves for healthcare to conveyor belts in factories. Around 29 million tonnes of rubber are currently produced annually worldwide, of which the share of natural rubber is around 40 to 45 percent. Because demand for rubber is still increasing while natural rubber production from rubber trees is under pressure, natural rubber production from dandelions is a very promising and sustainable alternative.
Originally from Kazakhstan
Dandelions are found almost everywhere in the world. More than 250 microspecies that are distinguishable in appearance are known in Europe. Microspecies are often hybrids of different flowers. Because hybrids between microspecies are common, they are no longer seen as separate microspecies and are often referred to by a collective name, such as Taraxacum officinale agg. The dandelions found in the Netherlands contain few or no rubber genes.
The Russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) is a subspecies of the dandelion family, and native to a small area of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and parts of China. The root of this plant contains rubber genes. The process of extracting rubber from dandelions has been known for some time, but it was forgotten after World War II. In the modern world, where sustainability and a bio-based economy are becoming increasingly important, this process has been rediscovered. Lion-Flex is now working on a breeding programme to increase the rubber content in the roots, which should result in the commercialisation of natural rubber from dandelions.
Lion-Flex focuses on the continuous breeding of dandelion varieties. Two important breeding goals are: 1- crossing species to achieve higher rubber contents in the roots, and 2- producing more root mass..
Lion-Flex is scaling up dandelion root cultivation in partnership with arable farmers. A great deal of research is being done to optimise cultivation, so that yields per hectare can be maximised in a sustainable manner.
Lion-Flex is developing and improving existing methods to extract natural rubber from the roots of dandelions as sustainably and efficiently as possible.
In cooperation with partners, Lion-Flex is looking for sustainable sales and applications of natural rubber from dandelion roots.
Lion-Flex is a joint venture of Barenbrug and Keygene. Barenbrug is a world player in grass breeding and production. KeyGene, a plant research company, has been researching the development of rubber from dandelions for more than ten years. Lion-Flex can build on the plant breeding expertise of both Dutch companies, as well as on the research and production facilities of Barenbrug Research.
“Demand for natural rubber is growing. At the same time, the only current source for natural rubber – the rubber tree hevea brasiliensis – is vulnerable, as it is threatened by various diseases that affect rubber production.“
“Natural rubber production from dandelions is more sustainable than natural rubber from rubber trees. It can be grown almost anywhere, and close to rubber processing plants.”
EFRO the East Netherlands
For the research of methods to win natural rubber from dandelions, Lion-Flex BV will receive subsidized support from Europe and the province Gelderland.
The latest news
All about the developments at Lion-Flex
Keygene conducts follow-up research into rubber from dandelions
A consortium around biotechnology company KeyGene in Wageningen has been awarded a subsidy of over € 500,000 for the upscaling of technology to extract natural rubber from dandelions. The root of the Russian dandelion consists largely of latex, as well as other...
Rien Geluk zet teelt op voor productie natuurrubber
De vraag naar natuurrubber groeit, de productie ervan in Azië wordt bedreigd. Dat biedt kansen voor de agrarische sector in Nederland. Lion Flex, een joint venture van de familie Barenbrug en KeyGene, steekt in op de teelt van Russische paardenbloem als grondstof....
Barenbrug and KeyGene start joint venture using dandelions for sustainable natural rubber production
Lion-Flex BV to boost development of rubber dandelion varieties. The Barenbrug family and research company KeyGene have joined forces to develop and produce rubber dandelion varieties and establish the sustainable production of natural rubber in Europe under the name...
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+3126 48 35 100
6874 BX Wolfheze