Dandelion rubber and inulin valorization in Europe

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    This European project aims to scale up a European natural rubber production from Taraxacum kok - saghyz or Russian dandelion. The scientists focus both on breeding of high-yielding lines, optimized cultivation, harvesting and storage technology, processing, biorefinery and compounding in various applications. Currently, a high proportion of the natural rubber is derived from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Ninety percent of this production is situated in SE Asia. Partly because the rubber tree is threatened by a fungal disease, rubber prices are highly volatile. Europe invests with this project in an alternative source of natural rubber. Taraxacum kok-saghyz (Russian dandelion) contains up to 15% natural rubber and 40% inulin in the root. The usefulness of this natural rubber in e.g. tires was demonstrated in a previous EU project, EU-PEARLS. In DRIVE4EU, the various sub-processes of natural rubber production and processing are further developed.


    Research approach
    Within the DRIVE4EU project, ILVO has the task to optimise the cultivation, harvesting and storage technology. Various lines are tested in field trials. We evaluate and optimise various production parameters. We compare direct sowing with implants, we study sowing densities, weed and disease control. With the mechanisation of the harvest of Taraxacum roots we work in analogy with the harvesting of chicory roots and salsify. The delivery of the roots for processing can be done in two ways: fresh roots or roots dried on the farm. Here we follow up the quality of preservation (fresh vs. dry) during the winter. We summarize all results in a crop sheet for Taraxacum in Flemish conditions.


    This project aims to create European production of natural rubber and inulin as a building block for a variety of green chemicals. In this project, we use Taraxacum kok-saghyz (Russian dandelion) as a production platform. The project is strongly driven by the industry. This is evident from the strong representation of companies in the project ranging from breeding to agricultural advisory, process engineering companies, rubber processing companies and companies active in inulin processing. According to the researchers, the inclusion of the companies promotes a realistic techno-economic evaluation of the business case. The commercial exploitation of the results is likely. We expect that this project will lead to a reduced reliance on Southeast Asia, increasing competitiveness of Europe and a positive effect on the European Bio-Economy.

    AcronymEU DRIVE4EU
    Effective start/end date1/02/1431/07/18