Ready with alternative By TA News Bureau
In 1995 Daniel R Swiger founded Yulex Corporation, a venture-backed company to commercialise guayule, an alternative to Hevea rubber crop. He did not stop there. His foresight to develop other environmentally-friendly and sustainable rubber took him to seize the challenge to commercialise Taraxacum koksaghyz or Russian dandelion as a source of good, high molecular weight rubber. He founded US biotechnology company Kultevat Inc to produce rubber from dandelion in North America and then expand that model in other parts of the world. He thinks that the near-total dependence on natural rubber produced is Asia is not desirable as leaf blight could wipe out plantations that produce this strategic material. It is indeed imperative to require a domestic source of natural rubber on which Kultevat Inc is investing its resources for processes and technology.(read more)

EU declares NR a 'critical' raw material
BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) has declared natural rubber (NR) a "critical raw material," meaning the EU recognizes the need "to ensure the secure, sustainable and affordable supply [of NR] for the EU manufacturing industry." NR was the only biotic raw material among the 27 out of 61 candidate materials to pass the EU listing assessment, according to the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA). "Natural rubber will receive proper political attention and consequent support when dealing with issues related to the supply of natural rubber," Fazilet Cinaralp, secretary general of the ETRMA, said. Inclusion of NR on the list, she said, could help strengthen the competitiveness of the rubber industry and stimulate the production of natural rubber, including beyond traditional producing countries. Moreover, Ms. Cinaralp said, the "critical status" could "increase awareness of potential raw material supply risks and support the efforts of [the] European Commission when negotiating trade agreements, in order to challenge potential trade distortion measures"(read more)

Alternative sources of rubber have arrived
HILTON HEAD, S.C.—Alternative sources of rubber are no longer in the realm of speculation, but now are viable technologies for tire manufacturing, according to speakers at the Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference in Hilton Head April 19-21.

Taraxacum koksaghyz, more commonly called TKS or Russian dandelions, is often spoken of as an experimental source of natural rubber, but in fact it has been cultivated for close to a century, according to Daniel Swiger, president and CEO of Kultevat Inc.

"We need a domestic source of natural rubber," Swiger said. "TKS is a very good, highmolecularweight rubber."

NR is so important that the world can't afford to limit its production to one plant in one part of the world, according to Swiger. "One of these days, leaf blight is going to hit Hevea," he said. "Some believe it, some don't. I think it probably will hit in some point in time." (read more)

Kultevat And KeyGene Enter Into A Partnership And License Agreement To Scale Up Dandelion Rubber Production In North America
ST. LOUIS, Oct. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Kultevat Inc. (St. Louis, MO) and KeyGene Inc. (Wageningen, The Netherlands) have extended their research collaboration to produce natural rubber in roots of dandelion plants for the sustainable production of natural rubber. The renewed collaboration builds on breakthroughs in plant breeding by KeyGene, expanded planting by Kultevat, and improved rubber extraction technologies. The collaboration includes commercial growing of hybrid rubber dandelion plants that will increase per acre production of natural rubber in North America.

A Novel Crop: Flexilis® Hybrid Significant milestones have been reached in KeyGene's rubber dandelion development program. Using molecular breeding technologies KeyGene has, for the first time, combined the capacity of the Kazakh dandelion plant (Taraxacum koksaghyz) to produce high levels of rubber, with the well-known vigorous growth potential of the common Dutch dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale). A novel interspecific hybrid crop "Flexilis® hybrid" has been developed; the hybrid produces the same amount of high quality rubber per gram of root tissue as the much smaller Kazakh dandelion plants. Simultaneously a high performing variant of the Kazakh dandelion Flexilis® plus has been developed, ready for large scale production of dandelion roots.

Kultevat is a strategic KeyGene partner for exploitation of the novel dandelion varieties in North America. The Kultevat team has developed cultivation practices for the dandelion crop and initiated the first production fields at various locations in the USA. Initial results confirm the ability of this crop to deliver a profitable rubber business. In addition the Kultevat team has developed a highly efficient rubber extraction method that can be scaled to factory level. The next goal of Kultevat is to produce sufficient amounts of dandelion rubber for the development of various natural rubber applications. (read more)

Kultevat earns first patent for Dandelion-to-rubber Process
June 5, 2016, BioFuesl Digest-- In Missouri, Kultevat has received its first process patent from the U.S. Patent Office for the production of natural rubber from Russian Dandelion. The new patent involves Dandelion processes, compositions and products are provided. One process is a method of preparing dandelion that utilizes a species of a Taraxacum genus, the process including the steps of extracting and recovering a rubber and a carbohydrate from a dandelion root substantially simultaneously. The process employs a dandelion species that is selected from the group consisting of: Taraxacum officianale, Taraxacum kok-saghyz, a rubber-bearing species of the genus Taraxacum, and a combination of two or more. “Farmers, investors and end-users like tire companies are looking to minimize risk and increase certainty as we move toward TKS commercialization,” said Kultevat CEO Daniel Swiger. (read more)

St. Louis biotech startup signs deal to develop new source for rubber
Aug 11, 2015, 11:43am CDT /BizJournals/ -- St. Louis-based biotechnology company Kultevat Inc. has entered a research and development agreement with Japan-based Sumitomo Rubber Industries to expedite the development of an alternative source of natural rubber from Russian dandelions.

Being able to produce rubber from the plant has advantages over Hevea rubber trees because the dandelions can be grown in many more regions around the world, including North America. The plant is already being grown for processing, testing and prototype development. The company expects commercial sales of the rubber to begin in 2016, of which it will have exclusive rights.

Sumitomo Rubber Industries committed an undisclosed amount of funding to the joint research. It will use the new rubber mostly for tires.  (read more)

Kultevat, Inc. and Sumitomo Rubber Industries enter into a research agreement to develop environmentally friendly source of natural rubber.
ST. LOUIS, Aug. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Kultevat, Inc. a biotechnology company in St. Louis, MO and Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Kobe, Japan (SRI) have entered into an R & D agreement to accelerate the development of Taraxicum kok-saghya (TKS) as an alternative source of natural rubber to replace materials from Hevea rubber trees.  Kultevat is developing and testing new varieties of TKS for increased productivity of rubber in greenhouse and field trials in the US through a partnership with Keygene Inc.,(Wageningen, Netherlands), an advanced plant breeding company. The agreement with SRI will accelerate the breeding effort and the selection of varieties that have specific traits that meet the goals of SRI to develop proprietary products that reduce the environmental impacts of rubber production and refinement. 

Unlike Hevea rubber trees, TKS can be grown in temperate regions around the globe, including in North America.  Kultevat's goals include increasing the yield of rubber from cultivation of highly productive varieties of TKS in multiple locations in North America, and developing green technologies for extraction of product from plant tissues.  The Sumitomo Rubber Industries has committed an undisclosed amount of funding for the joint research on TKS (sometimes referred to as Russian dandelions) to promote the better use of natural resources while, in the future, enabling SRI to secure a reliable and efficient supply of natural raw materials at production bases around the world. "We expect that development of TKS as an economically viable source of rubber will allow SRI to provide a steady supply of high-performance tires with low environmental impact to a greater number of customers in the future," said President, Ikuji Ikeda Sumitomo Rubber Industries. (read more)

Sumitomo Rubber Begins Joint Research on Russian Dandelions as a Potential New Source of Natural Rubber
August 5, 2015
With the aim of providing more environmentally friendly and high-performance products, Sumitomo Rubber Industries has been examining the potential of Russian Dandelions as a new, alternative source of natural rubber that may one day replace the conventional source of natural rubber: Para Rubber Trees. And so, we are pleased to announce that we have recently begun joint research with Kultevat, an emerging American Biotech Company, toward finding practical applications for natural rubber derived from Russian Dandelions.

As global tire demand continues to expand, Sumitomo Rubber Industries believes that reducing the usage of fossil resources such as petroleum and coal, which make up approximately 60% of a conventional tire, and promoting the use of sustainable natural resources are extremely important goals for the tire industry. (read more)

Dandelions could be new cash crop
Sunday, May 03, 2015 3:00 PM
ST. LOUIS — Illinois farmers interested in something new may want to take a look at dandelions.
A St. Louis company is in the process of developing an industry producing the Russian dandelion for the latex it produces. The potential is promising.

The United States imports $5 billion in rubber annually, said Dan Swiger, chief executive officer of Kultevat (pronounced like the word “cultivate”). A veteran of the alternative rubber market, Swiger believes there is good opportunity for producing rubber from the roots of the dandelion plant and supplying industry in the U.S.

“While car and airplane tires certainly represent a large share of the market, natural rubber touches our daily lives in ways we do not consider,” he said. “The shoes we wear to exercise, the rubber bands we use to hold our produce together, the gum we chew — among many other examples — all use natural rubber.” (read more)

Kultevat obtains license of gene switch technology
Digital, September 18, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. biotech company Kultevat has strengthened its technology portfolio by signing an exclusive license for technology developed by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to control gene expression in plants, including for applications in production of natural rubber in Taraxicum species.

The technology was developed under the direction of Roger Beachy, Ph.D., chief science officer at Kultevat and former president of the Danforth Plant Science Center, and is used to introduce natural genetic elements to plants for the purpose of closely controlling seed maturation and germination. The gene switch technology controls expression of genes by use of a well-characterized chemical activator or by seed specific gene promoters that 'switch on' desired genes. The promoters control expression of genes that lead to production of plant hormones that regulate the timing of seed maturation and germination. (read more)

Kultevat, KeyGene announce breakthrough in Russian dandelion latex, March 26, 2014

ST. LOUIS—Kultevat, a St. Louis-based biotech company, and KeyGene, a molecular genetics company based in the Netherlands, have announced the joint development of the first genetic lines of Russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) that can be tested and used for latex extraction.

In April 2013, Kultevat and KeyGene signed an agreement to develop, breed and test Russian dandelions for natural rubber production, the companies said in a joint press release.

Following a rigorous breeding strategy incorporating its molecular and DNA tools, KeyGene succeeded in producing improved Russian dandelion varieties with superior agronomic performance, latex quality and latex yields, the companies said.

Kultevat will conduct the testing, cultivation and production program through its new U.S. research and development facility in St. Louis, they said.

Meanwhile, KeyGene also has cross-bred Russian and European dandelions to produce new breeding material with increased vigor and taproot size, according to the companies. (read more)

KeyGene and Kultevat reach milestones in Russian dandelion natural rubber,
March 25, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo and WAGENINGEN, The Netherlands; March 25, 2014 -- U.S. biotech company Kultevat and KeyGene, an international molecular genetics company specializing in agricultural biotechnology, have developed the first Russian dandelion lines that can be tested and used for latex extraction. Following a rigorous breeding strategy leveraging its molecular and DNA tools, KeyGene produced improved Russian dandelion lines with superior agronomic performance, latex quality and yields.

In April, 2013, Kultevat and KeyGene entered into collaboration developing, breeding and testing Russian dandelion for the production of natural rubber.  A recent capital investment will enable Kultevat to finance its testing, cultivation and production program. Kultevat plans to coordinate all activities related to dandelion production for natural rubber through its new U.S. R&D facility in St Louis, Mo. (read more)

Kultevat continues work on Russian dandelion,, April 25, 2013
CARLSBAD, Calif.—Kultevat L.L.C. appears to be ready to spread its wings after almost five years of building its operation.

Founded by entrepreneur Daniel R. Swiger, the company is moving rapidly toward its primary goal of full-scale production of rubber and sugar syrup from Russian dandelion plants (Taraxacum kok-saghyz or TKS) in the U.S. and abroad by 2016.

"Currently we are producing small amounts of rubber with larger acres of TKS going in the ground in fall 2013," he said. "TKS is an annual crop, so we can plant, grow and process in one year versus two years for guayule and seven years for hevea."

The firm is growing the plants in 12 states and searching for other acreage in Canada and Mexico.
(read more)

KeyGene and Kultevat enter into a collaboration to develop commercial rubber production from Russian dandelion, SeedQuest, April 8, 2013
Today the US based biotech company Kultevat and KeyGene, a biotech company from the Netherlands announced that they entered into collaboration for production of rubber based on the Russian dandelion. This plant has demonstrated potential as a domesticated crop for the U.S. and Europe; the origin of the species is the south eastern part of Kazachstan. Kultevat and KeyGene will invest in the development and commercial introduction of new dandelion varieties that are enriched for latex in its roots that are suitable for large scale production of natural rubber. KeyGene will be responsible for development of new varieties using state of the art molecular breeding technologies while Kultevat will develop appropriate production  practices and large scale latex extraction and rubber production in North America. KeyGene will use the newly developed varieties and its production technologies for production of rubber in other global locations.

Natural rubber is used in many high quality rubber products including medicinal gloves, clothing, as well as in automotive and heavy duty tires. Currently, natural rubber is almost exclusively derived from latex harvested from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) that is cultivated in Southeast Asia. Because of the high demands for rubber in emerging economies, the price of raw rubber has sharply increased in recent years, fueling the need for an alternative source. The Russian dandelion, Taraxacum koksaghyz, produces high quality rubber that can be extracted from its taproot. Current varieties produce roots that are relatively small in size. KeyGene will apply molecular breeding technologies to increase plant size and productivity of latex, while Kultevat will adapt modern agronomic practices to different growing sites in the U.S. to further ‘domesticate’ the new varieties developed by KeyGene. (read more) (download Press Release)

Dandelion tires? It's not a Beatles lyric, it's biotech, By Nick Glass and Tim Hume, CNN
Wageningen, The Netherlands (CNN) -- The dandelion's bright yellow bloom and fuzzy, parachute-like seeds are a familiar sight across the continents.

But scientists at Dutch biotech firm KeyGene believe the flower's true beauty could lie beneath the soil. The dandelion's roots contain latex, the milky liquid that is a source for natural rubber and the origin for the plant's name in a number of languages (the Danish for "dandelion" translates as "milk pot").

Global demand for natural rubber is expected to outstrip supply by 20% by 2020. But KeyGene believes that the dandelion can be developed into an important natural source of the commodity, worth more than $100 billion a year. (read more)

Beachy grows Kultevat, looks to raise $25 million, By E.B. Solomont, Biz Journals
Roger Beachy, founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is bringing a new venture to St. Louis: a company called Kultevat that plans to produce natural rubber from dandelion plants.

With plans to move to the Helix Center, Kultevat hopes to raise $25 million, mostly from local investors, to scale up production. (read more)

Rubber - latex news, By Miles Moore
NR prices on an upward spiral

Natural rubber prices hit all-time high.
That’s been a common headline throughout the past month, as NR prices have climbed well past the $5-per-kilogram mark—to $6.05 in Tokyo on Feb. 7. With NR supply short and demand high, they show every sign of going higher.

The cause—a perfect storm in the NR world, a combination of soaring demand, weather woes, currency fluctuations and the slow pace of replanting and maturation of the Hevea brasiliensis tree.

NR prices have rocketed upward on various commodity exchanges. On the Singapore Commodity Exchange, Rubber Smoked Sheets 3 reached $5.70 per kilo for March delivery in Singapore Jan. 20, while Technically Specified Rubber 20 rose to $5.47 per kilogram.

Standard Indonesian Rubber 20, the natural rubber grade used most often by U.S. tire manufacturers, stood at $2.51 per pound at the port of origin Jan. 20, a full 10 cents higher than just eight days before.
At the same time, prices of styrene-butadiene rubber, the most commonly used synthetic rubber, haven’t matched the NR increases. But like NR and butadiene, SBR prices have risen.

SBR prices increased some $600 per metric ton to $3,000-$3,100 between early October and January, according to ICIS, an online chemical and synthetic rubber information service. (read more)

Russian dandelion
Among other species, especially Russian dandelion (Taraxacum koksaghyz Rodin), produces highly promising amounts and qualities of rubber. T. koksaghyz was discovered in 1931 in the framework of a program to make the USSR self-sufficient in strategic materials, including natural rubber. Subsequently, efforts were made to domesticate and improve the crop. In 1941, a combined total of 67,000 hectares was planted in the USSR, and agronomic procedures and processing methods were tested. These efforts were discontinued around 1950. (read more, download PDF)

LIFE MAGAZINE, October 23, 1944
This tire is made out of dandelions

Kok-saghyz, means "the root that can be chewed." At least it does to a Russian. It's first cousin to our own dandelion – a little larger, a bit coarser. And good rubber can be extracted from it.

In 1942 two planes landed in America with cargoes of kok-saghyz seeds. A total of 575 acres was planted, the dandelions harvested, the rubber produced. (read more, download PDF)

Green solutions magazine, October 16, 2010
Tires Treading on Being Eco-Friendly

Want to save some gas? Well, how about using a low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tire that generates about 5 percent less friction than regular tires. Low-rolling resistance tires are are standard equipment on hybrid and battery electric cars like the Toyota Prius, but rarely make it onto the average cars most of us drive. They can get 50 miles per gallon or somewhere around five percent better fuel economy. The Department of Energy says 5 to 15% of fuel economy is used for overcoming rolling resistance. (read more)

Peachy Green, June 28, 2010
Green Vehicle Tires Created from Plants

When it comes to building a greener, more eco-friendly car, manufacturers have incorporated a number of measures (increasing fuel efficiency, using recyclable materials, cutting down on wind or road resistance and more).  Yet tires have been made of the same general substance for decades: petroleum.  Until now.

Green vehicle tires created from plants have been created at several research labs and some are even hitting the market.  Sumitomo Rubber Industries (partnering with Goodyear) introduced the Enasave tire in Japan in 2006.  The amount of synthetic rubber was cut in half from its previous models, comprising a total of only 11% of the tire.

Similarly at Yokohama Tire, scientists created 80% petroleum-free tires in its Yokohama dB Super E-spec, which uses oil from orange peels in its processing.  Talk about recycling!  The orange peels are shipped to the tire manufacturing plant from orange juice factories in Japan!  You can buy these tires right here in the U.S. too!  Just ask your local retailer if they carry them. (read more)

The New York Times, June 18, 2010
Recipe for Green Tires: Plants, Not Petroleum

WITH each new model introduction, automakers take pains to point out how much they have done to reduce their vehicles’ negative effects on the environment. A rundown of the advances can involve almost every aspect of the car’s design and production: carbon dioxide output has been cut; paint application has changed to a water-based process; recycling and waste reduction at the factory has been improved to a point where nothing goes to a landfill.

But when it comes to tires, there has been far less to talk about. (read more)

Bloomberg, September 21, 2010
Bridgestone, Goodyear Face Worst Rubber Shortage in Four Years

Bridgestone Corp., the largest tiremaker by sales, is raising European prices for the second time this year and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is charging more as rubber gains on prospects for the biggest shortage since 2007.

“Drought earlier this year and heavy rains later on hampered tree-tapping across Asian plantations,” said Pongsak Kerdvongbundit, managing director of Phuket, Thailand-based Von Bundit Co., the largest natural-rubber producer and exporter in the world’s biggest supplier. “Global production will lag behind soaring demand for at least another two years.” (read more)

The New York Times, June 17, 2010
Recipe for Green Tires: Plants, Not Petroleum

With each new model introduction, automakers take pains to point out how much they have done to reduce their vehicles’ negative effects on the environment. A rundown of the advances can involve almost every aspect of the car’s design and production: carbon dioxide output has been cut; paint application has changed to a water-based process; recycling and waste reduction at the factory has been improved to a point where nothing goes to a landfill.
But when it comes to tires, there has been far less to talk about.

Efforts to burnish the eco-friendliness of tires are growing, though, with an emphasis on reducing the use of raw materials — particularly the five to 10 gallons of petroleum ingredients needed to manufacture a tire.

In recent years, the notion of making tires greener has mostly referred to the improvements in fuel economy that result from reducing their rolling resistance — usually through the use of special rubber formulations and, of course, by assuring that proper inflation pressures are maintained.

The potential gains are substantial. When considering the environmental friendliness of a tire over its full lifespan, the effect on gas mileage actually does more to determine the tire’s total carbon footprint than the choices of raw materials that go into making it. (read more)

Conservation Magazine, ©2009 The Economist Newspaper Ltd, London
Your next set of wheels could be made of weeds
Other than being an ingredient of upscale salads, dandelions are pretty useless plants. But one species, Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), may yet make the big time. It produces molecules of rubber in its sap, and—if two research programs, one in Germany and one in America, come to fruition—it could supplement or even replace the traditional rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis.

Despite the invention of synthetic rubbers, there is often no good substitute for the real thing. This is because natural-rubber molecules have a more regular structure than artificial ones. For this reason, around one-fifth of an average car tire is made of natural rubber. Moreover, the price of synthetic rubber is tied to that of the oil from which it is made, rendering it vulnerable to changing oil prices.

Because oil is likely to become more costly in the future, natural rubber looks to be an attractive alternative, from an economic point of view as well as an engineering one.

Natural rubber has problems, though. Growing Hevea in the Americas is hard. In Asia, planting new rubber trees often means cutting down rainforest. And trees, being large, take time to grow to the point where they can yield a crop. A smaller plant that could be harvested for its rubber thus has obvious appeal.

Which is where TKS comes in. Dandelions are robust, fast-growing plants that can be pulled up for processing and resown easily, possibly yielding two harvests a year. If they could be turned into usable crops, they could outstrip even Hevea. (read more)

Dandelion greens in the raw are packed with nutritional value. For specific nutritional information, click here.



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