Natural rubber is rather hard to get, as the trees from which it is cultivated from only grow in certain areas and the method of obtaining it is difficult and time-consuming. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, is not too tough to create, though it generally comes from petroleum -- not necessarily the greatest compromise. Researchers at The Ohio State University have begun work on a new processing plant which is designed to create natural rubber from the lowly Dandelion plant. The specific plant is the Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), more commonly referred to as the Russian Dandelion. Ten to twenty-percent of that plant's root is ready to make rubber, and researchers believe that plants could be modified for even better yields.

Plenty of rubber can be cultivated from the weeds, with the OSU researchers estimating that they can produce between twenty and sixty-million tons of the stuff annually from their initial processing plant. A certain portion of that rubber will go to tire manufacturer Bridgestone for research. Initial testing has been very positive, meaning that we could someday be rolling on dubs made from yellow weeds.

[Source: Discovery News]

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