Improved methods for extracting latex from rubber dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) roots

The Need:

In a world driven by innovation and sustainability, the demand for natural rubber (NR) continues to surge across a multitude of industries, including automotive, healthcare, and construction. NR's unparalleled properties, unmatched by synthetic alternatives, make it an indispensable component in over 50,000 products. However, the commercial supply of NR, primarily sourced from the Para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), faces a plethora of challenges. These include price instability, escalating labor costs, geopolitical trade complexities, competition with other crops, deforestation restrictions, and disease vulnerabilities. To ensure a consistent and sustainable NR supply, there's an urgent need for an alternative source that overcomes these challenges while preserving the environment.

The Technology:

Enter Taraxacum kok-saghyz, commonly known as rubber root dandelion. This remarkable plant holds the potential to revolutionize the NR industry. It produces NR comparable to that of the Hevea brasiliensis tree. However, the critical obstacle lies in the lack of an environmentally friendly and economically viable rubber extraction process proven at a commercial scale. Researchers at OSU have developed an improved methodology that increase latex yield by 2x. This process is water based and could could readily be incorporated into an industrial-scale latex extraction process.

Commercial Applications:

Tire Manufacturing: T. kok-saghyz-derived NR can serve as a sustainable alternative for tire production, reducing the dependency on traditional rubber tree sources.

Medical Devices: The high-quality NR extracted from T. kok-saghyz can be used in medical products such as gloves, syringe tips, and catheters.

Industrial Sealants: NR from this source can be employed in manufacturing gaskets, seals, and O-rings, contributing to enhanced product durability.

Sporting Goods: Sports equipment like tennis balls and golf grips can benefit from the eco-friendly NR derived from T. kok-saghyz.

Footwear: The fashion and footwear industry can utilize this sustainable NR source to create comfortable and durable shoes.

Benefits/Advantages:

Sustainability: T. kok-saghyz offers a sustainable and eco-friendly source of NR, reducing the environmental impact associated with traditional rubber tree plantations.

Price Stability: By diversifying the NR supply chain, reliance on volatile rubber tree prices is diminished, providing stability for industries dependent on NR.

Reduced Labor Costs: The cultivation and extraction process of T. kok-saghyz can be more cost-effective due to reduced labor-intensive tasks compared to traditional rubber trees.

Geopolitical Independence: Decreasing dependence on rubber tree cultivation reduces exposure to geopolitical trade tensions and uncertainties.

​​​​​​​Future Potential: Continuous research and development in T. kok-saghyz NR extraction promise further improvements in yield and quality, ensuring a sustainable future for NR-dependent industries.

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