Utne Blogs > Environment

Wheels Made of Weeds, Seriously

Dandelion tires

The average car tire is roughly one part natural rubber (thank you, rubber tree) and four parts synthetic material (thank you, petroleum industry). It turns out you just can’t make a good tire without at least a little bit of the real thing thrown in there—and while rubber trees aren’t exactly a finite resource, chopping them down takes the form of clear cutting rainforest and they are slow to grow back.

Enter the lowly dandelion. It turns out that one species of the weed, Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), produces rubber molecules.  Conservation Magazine reports that scientists in Germany “have identified the genes that allow TKS to produce usable rubber.”

I can’t help myself—this effort needs a theme song…


Source: Conservation Magazine

Image by jurvetson, licensed under Creative Commons.