Continental has officially opened its research laboratory named Taraxagum Lab Anklam in Anklam, Germany.
Following the ground-breaking ceremony in November 2017, the building covering an area of 30,000 square meters is ready for occupation just one year later. It is designed as a base for future research on farming and the extraction process of Russian dandelions as an alternative raw material source to the rubber trees in the tropics. The tyre manufacturer is planning to introduce the raw material into serial production within the next ten years, in order to obtain an increasing proportion of its natural rubber demand from the dandelion plant.
At the opening, Nikolai Setzer, member of the Executive Board of Continental and head of the tyre division said, “We are proud to open this lighthouse project today. We are the first tyre manufacturer in the world to invest such a significant amount in industrialising dandelion rubber. We see Russian dandelions as an important alternative and complementary to conventional natural rubber from hevea brasiliensis, allowing us to meet the rising global demand in an environmentally compatible and reliable way.”
Additionally, the investment in the new research laboratory is another technological milestone on the road to implementing the Vision 2025 Continental has developed for its tyre business. “As part of our Vision 2025 strategy, we have invested more than €2 billion in production, research, and development as well as in jobs and new products worldwide since 2011. Anklam now features prominently in the series of unique projects in Europe, America, and Asia,” added Setzer.
In the medium term, around 20 employees with backgrounds in agricultural sciences, chemistry, and production and process technology will research plant cultivation as well as developing, setting up, and operating machines for processing Russian dandelions at the new location. The Ministry of Economic Affairs of the state of Mecklenburg, Western Pomerania supported the future-oriented project with €11.6 million in order to create high-quality jobs locally. The new business location also creates opportunities for farmers in the region and their cultivation areas.
The first sample of a premium winter tyre featuring a tread made from pure dandelion rubber was brought onto the road in 2014. The first truck tyre with a tread made from Taraxagum then followed at IAA 2016.