Dandelions: Liked by youngsters, loathed by (most) gardeners. Usually dismissed as a weed, dandelions lend themselves to a number of makes use of — and is perhaps the answer to creating extra sustainable automotive tyres.
The dandelion goes by many names throughout languages and colloquialisms. The English identify comes from the French ‘dent-de-lion’, a reference to the tooth-like serration of the leaf edges. A number of languages make comparable reference, whereas some names seek advice from different traits of the plant. However, circling again to French, ‘pissenlit’ is the widespread identify for dandelions. This interprets to ‘piss within the mattress’, a reference to dandelion’s supposed diuretic properties.
A diuretic is one thing that will increase your physique’s manufacturing of urine. Caffeine, present in tea and occasional, is a weak diuretic, and alcohol is one other instance. Proof for dandelion’s diuretic properties is combined and restricted, regardless of its use in conventional medication for hundreds of years. One research discovered it to have a comparable diuretic exercise to the diuretic drug furosemide in mice. One other restricted research in people, which used self-reported information, additionally discovered a diuretic impact. Nonetheless, most research have been in animals, with restricted information for people, so it’s laborious to say what the dimensions of dandelion’s diuretic impact is perhaps.
Due to this uncertainty, it’s unclear which compounds in dandelion is perhaps accountable. Some dialogue factors to flavonoids and chlorogenic acids, however the analysis is just too sparse for any clear offender to emerge. What we do know is that, if dandelion is an efficient diuretic, it’s acquired a key profit: its potassium ranges. Dandelion greens have larger ranges of potassium than these present in bananas. That is helpful as a result of a problem with some diuretics is that they will trigger low potassium ranges. Even when dandelion doesn’t itself have a diuretic impact, given with present diuretic medicine it might keep potassium ranges.
Investigation of dandelion compounds goes past simply figuring out in the event that they make you wee extra. Analysis has recognized anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidative actions, primarily as a result of polyphenol and sesquiterpene compounds. These compounds are additionally answerable for the bitter flavour of dandelion leaves. And in the event you’ve discovered that your pores and skin will get a bit irritated or itchy after weeding dandelions within the backyard? It’s the sesquiterpene lactones which can be partly in charge, as they’re recognized to be contact allergens.
Whereas pulling up dandelions, you could discover the sticky white liquid that seeps out of their damaged stalks. This liquid accommodates pure latex, from which we will get rubber. The dandelion’s root accommodates many of the latex. The amount in widespread dandelions is just too low to make large-scale extraction sensible, however a relative, the Russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) accommodates larger portions.
Rubber from dandelions isn’t a brand new discovery. Throughout World Conflict II, rubber shortages led a number of nations to make use of dandelions for rubber manufacturing. In 1941 30% of the USSR’s rubber got here from the Russian dandelion. However as quickly as rubber from its main supply, the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), was out there once more, curiosity in dandelion rubber waned.
Now, although, efforts to extract and use rubber from dandelions have reemerged. That is partly as a result of considerations concerning the sustainability of rubber from the rubber tree and its skill to fulfill future ranges of demand. Rubber bushes solely develop properly within the tropics, and the land required for this results in deforestation. Russian dandelions could be grown in a a lot wider vary of climates, making scaling up dandelion rubber manufacturing a sensible prospect.
Since 2014, Continental, the German tyre producer, has been pursuing the manufacture of dandelion rubber tyres. As of 2019, they’ve marketed bicycle tyres with a tread made solely from dandelion-derived rubber. They’ve additionally examined tyres for business autos and automobiles. They estimate that dandelion rubber tyres for automobiles might be out there by the top of the last decade. One other tyre producer, Goodyear, has introduced plans to provide dandelion rubber, initially for navy planes however doubtlessly increasing to client autos sooner or later.
One of the best a part of all that is that the Russian dandelion could be simply grown in most climates — so you’ll be able to have a go at extracting rubber from it your self. This Science in College article presents a few completely different strategies for doing so. When you’re unlikely to have the ability to extract sufficient rubber to your personal tyre, it’s a enjoyable exercise to disclose the rubber hidden within the plant’s roots.
- Turning dandelions into rubber: the highway to a sustainable future – Mareike Göbel and Martin Gröger, Science in College
- Widespread dandelion: a evaluation of its botanical, phytochemical and pharmacological profiles (£) – Laura Grauso et al, Phytochemistry Evaluations
- Professional-health exercise of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale L.) and its meals merchandise – historical past and current (£) – Bernadetta Lis and Beata Olas, Journal of Useful Meals
- Proof-based systematic evaluation of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) by Pure Commonplace Analysis Collaboration (£) – Brooke Sweeney et al, Journal of Natural Pharmacotherapy
- Taraxacum—A evaluation on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile (£) – Katrin Schütz et al, Journal of Ethnopharmacology
- Dandelions, the scourge of lawns, could also be a fount of rubber – Melody Bomgardner, C&EN
- How rubber is bouncing again – Equipment Chapman, Chemistry World