High density vertical farming and processing of rubber dandelions for premium military grade rubber and rapid supply expansion.

K. Cornish and T. Madden
American Sustainable Rubber, United States

Keywords: Advanced elastomers, biorubber, critical materials security, high density production, vertical farming

Biodiversification of global natural rubber (NR) is essential because (i) NR is the only critical agricultural product which has no back up, (ii) 14 million tonnes of global NR production failed to meet 2018 demand, and (iii) the US imported $1.5 billion-worth of NR and $13 billion-worth of tires and products essential to all economic sectors. Synthetic rubber cannot mimic NR’s essential military performance properties. Rubber dandelion germplasm needs improved productivity and herbicide resistance before farming as a commercial field crop in the northern US. However, the species is suited to vertical farming systems in which the environment can be controlled, there are no dirt or weeds, and the rubber-containing roots can be harvested every two months multiple times from the same plants. This system is at least 10x more productive than field-grown rubber dandelions and provides a high through-put testing system for natural selection or genetically modified or edited plants. Furthermore, hydroponic or aeroponic systems may retain dandelion NR in latex form allowing rapid extraction of purified clean latex, instead of much slower extraction of less pure solid rubber. The latex is converted easily to solid rubber very similar to imported NR.