Drive4EU - Dandelion Rubber and Inulin Valorisation for Europe

Natural rubber (NR) is an essential renewable material for more than 50,000 products essential to building (adhesives, sealants), medicine (gloves, tubing), and transportation (matting, tyres) industries. In many applications NR cannot be replaced by synthetic rubbers. At the moment NR is harvested exclusively from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) of which 90% is grown in South East Asia. Worldwide NR consumption is forecasted to increase significantly. At the moment the EU is completely dependent on imports of NR.

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The successful EU-PEARLS project, which finished in 2012, demonstrated the viability of a new NR producing concept: Russian dandelion (Taraxacum koksaghyz , TKS). Not demonstrated in that project, but of equal importance in the construction of the TKS business case, is the fact that TKS is also a promising new crop for biomass derived building blocks for the chemical industry via the production of inulin.

The strategic objective of DRIVE4EU (Dandelion Rubber and Inulin Valorisation for Europe) is to demonstrate the techno-economic viability of a new European production chain for natural rubber and green chemicals (furanics from inulin) with Russian dandelion (TKS) as production platform. DRIVE4EU is a demonstration project in which the goal is the up-scaling of each step in the production chain of natural rubber and inulin using Russian dandelion.