AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- While Earth Day is celebrated only once a year, international tire manufacturer and automotive supplier Continental is committed to developing sustainable, environmentally friendly technology every day.
One example of this commitment is Continental's research focused on replacing rubber trees with dandelion roots as a rubber source for tire production. Dr. Peter Zmolek, Continental Tire the Americas Director of Research and Development, will discuss with the SAE World Congress attendees that state-of-the-art growing methods and optimized cultivation systems have made it possible to produce high-grade natural rubber from dandelion roots in the laboratory.
"One of our key values is contributing to sustainable mobility with our products, technologies, and services — all while increasing vehicle safety, comfort, and energy efficiency," said Zmolek. "Continental's use of dandelion roots to make rubber brings us one step closer to reaching our goal of making tire production more sustainable and less dependent on traditional raw materials."
The project brings industry and science together. The Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology at the University of Munster, Germany has optimized dandelion cultivation and production engineering over the past few years.
Now, in collaboration with Continental, it has begun to build a pilot system based on a technology recently proven by making its first tire that used quantities of dandelion rubber. Continental recently developed the first tires for testing purposes that were made from the innovative material that the company is calling "Taraxagum," a term derived from the botanical name for dandelion (taraxacum). The natural rubber in the treads of the test tires was completely replaced with Taraxagum.
The particular variety of plant used in this effort is the Russian dandelion, which is very rubber-rich and does not need a tropical climate in contrast to rubber trees. This plant can be cultivated in a number of temperate regions on what is known as "marginal land" that was previously unusable in terms of agriculture. The regions where dandelions can be cultivated are much larger than the so called "rubber belt."
"The use of dandelion rubber can shorten transport routes to our production sites around the world and enable the growing global demand for rubber to be met without sacrificing more precious areas of rainforest," said Zmolek. "Both these factors will have a positive, sustainable effect on the world's carbon footprint and on bio-diversity."
How Continental turns a weed into a tire will be shared by Zmolek during the "Sustainable Materials and Components" technical session being held during the SAE 2015 World Congress & Exhibition at 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, in Room 140F, Cobo Center, Detroit. For further information regarding sustainable tire production at Continental visit www.taraxagum.com.
Engineering and the environment work together on a daily basis in Continental's automotive operations as well. In addition to developing dandelion roots as a rubber source, the company is working to advance sustainable technologies for the automotive industry. For example, Continental's Bare Die High-Density-Interconnect (BD-HDI) printed circuit board substrate technology for transmission electronics requires significantly less heat and time to cure compared to conventional ceramic substrates, greatly reducing energy consumption during production. Continental's turbocharger with water-cooled aluminum turbine housing weighs nearly 30 percent less than traditional turbocharger solutions, helping automakers reduce weight and improve efficiency. Both innovations were named finalists in the 2015 Automotive News PACE (Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contribution to Excellence) Award program.
In celebration of Earth Day and the partnership between engineering and the environment, Continental is giving away free coasters made from recycled rubber at its booth (#427) on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. The company is the Tier One Strategic Partner for the SAE 2015 World Congress & Exhibition taking place April 21-23, 2015, at Cobo Center in Detroit. Continental will demonstrate its latest technologies and its leadership is participating in industry panel discussions and technical sessions, as well as giving a keynote address during this year's event.
Continental develops intelligent technologies for transporting people and their goods. As a reliable partner, the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer, and industrial partner provides sustainable, safe, comfortable, individual, and affordable solutions. In 2014, the corporation generated preliminary sales of approximately €34.5 billion with its five divisions, Chassis & Safety, Interior, Powertrain, Tire, and ContiTech. Continental currently employs approximately 200,000 people in 53 countries.
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