Start of the EU project DRIVE4EU

EU project demonstrates economic feasibility of rubber and
inulin production in Russian dendelion
1 February 2014 saw the start of the EU project DRIVE4EU, a demonstration project aimed at the
development of the production chain of natural rubber and inulin from Russian dandelions. The
project is coordinated by Wageningen UR. The aim of the project is to set up a new European chain
for the production and processing of natural rubber. This will enable the EU to become less dependent on the import of natural rubber and at the same time to respond to the threat of a global rubber
Natural rubber is a sustainable material that is used in more than 40,000 products for, among other things,
construction (adhesives, sealants), medicine (gloves, tubing) and transportation (matting, tyres). Because
of the high quality of natural rubber in many products it cannot be completely replaced by synthetic rubber.
It is expected that the global demand for natural rubber will increase considerably over the coming period.
Currently the EU is completely dependent on the import of natural rubber.
At present natural rubber is exclusively harvested from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) of which about
90% is grown in South East Asia. In an earlier research project, EU-PEARLS, the potential of various new
natural rubber crops was investigated. This study showed that with a few development steps it is economically feasible to produce natural rubber with Russian dandelions (Taraxacum kok-saghyz).
The Russian dandelion produces very good rubber that can be used to make car tyres, among other things.
The EU-PEARLS project yielded a simple efficient extraction method for dandelion rubber, as well as knowledge enabling significant and rapid advances in dandelion breeding. These results were used as the basis
for the demonstration project ‘Dandelion Rubber and Inulin Valorisation and Exploitation for the EU’
The project will demonstrate the economic feasibility of the use of Russian dandelion as a production
platform for both natural rubber and inulin. The inulin can be used as the raw material for interesting green
chemicals, such as furan-based polymers. The combination of rubber and inulin makes dandelion extra
interesting as a production platform.
In the context of this project, KeyGene is working on exploring and improving the possibilities for breeding
Russian dandelion on rubber production, seed production of Russian dandelion and support of the DNA
study that examines cross-pollination with wild dandelions.
The DRIVE4EU consortium consists of eight industrial partners and five research organisations that bring
together a wide knowledge and expertise, from bioscience to product development. The research
programme will run until the end of 2017 and is coordinated by Dr Ingrid van der Meer of Wageningen UR.
For KeyGene Dr Peter van Dijk and Ir Rolf Mank are involved.
The partners within DRIVE4EU
Keygene NV (NL)
Syral S.A.S. (FR)
GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH (DE)
Apollo Tyres Global R&D B.V. (NL
QEW Engineered Rubber (NL)
MITAS a.s. (CZ), Joanneum Research (AU)
NETZSCH Feinmahltechnik GmbH (DE)
Joanneum Research (AU)
Wageningen UR (DLO, NL)
Institute of Botany ASCR (CZ)
Proefboerderij Rusthoeve (NL)
Vlaams Gewest-ILVO (Be)