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Network partner NETZSCH in DRIVE4EU

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Dandelion Rubber and Inulin Valorization and Exploitation for Europe

The project DRIVE4EU (Dandelion Rubber and Inulin Valorization and Exploitation for Europe) aims at the development of the production chain of natural rubber and inulin from Rubber dandelions. The objective 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 shortage.

NETZSCH-Feinmahltechnik GmbH is the world leader in wet milling technology. Based in Selb, Germany, the company is the head firm in the Grinding & Dispersing business unit. It offers a comprehensive program for the many challenges in mechanical process engineering and is especially focussed on the areas of wet and dry grinding, mixing, dispersing, de-aeration and classifying. The laboratory and production-scale machines, plus complete production lines, are used in almost all areas of industry, including nanotechnology, the production of ink, minerals or foods. The bundling of processing know-how, our extensive machine program, solutions for customer-specific problems and our global presence are unique and hence the strength of the business unit. The Business Unit has production works on 5 continents, a global sales and service network generating a global turnover of about €120 Million with about 700 employees.

Role and main tasks within the project:

  • Laboratory scale biorefinery of several root samples to quantify and qualify the valuable components
  • Pilot scale biorefinery of small amounts of TKS-roots to evaluate the process and to design the machinery for large scale extraction
  • Large scale biorefinery to process large amounts of TKS-roots and produce purified components (rubber, inulin) that will be transferred to the end-user partners

Dry grinding part: The following grinding technologies are available: Cutting granulators, impact mills (hammer mill, rotor disk mill...), classifier mills as well as fluidized bed jet mills for every fineness, down into the submicron range. For the separation of fractions, high-performance classifiers are provided.

Wet grinding part: The following mixing technologies are available: rotor-only, rotor-stator, inline mixing with low shear. For fine dispersing in thermosetting polymers high pressure homogenization and agitator bead mills can also be studied at the laboratories of NETZSCH-Feinmahltechnik GmbH.

 

About the Project

DRIVE4EU will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the use of Rubber 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 common name Russian dandelion for Taraxacum koksaghyz is actually not fitting very well since TKS originates from Kazakhstan and can also be found in specific areas of China and Kirghizstan. Therefore the name ‘Rubber dandelion’ is used in this project. The combination of rubber and inulin makes Rubber dandelion very interesting as a production platform.

The main objectives of DRIVE4EU are:

  • plant genotypes with high root biomass, high rubber and inulin yield,
  • seed batches for agronomic tests and large scale demo field trials,
  • optimized cultivation and harvest methods for TKS,
  • ecological analysis of the gene flow between TKS and wild dandelions,
  • scaled-up and optimised extraction and refinery protocol for TKS natural rubber and inulin,
  • testing and application of TKS natural rubber and inulin in end product uses,
  • demonstration of the economic viability of the TKS production chain for natural rubber and inulin.

The DRIVE4EU consortium consists of eight industrial partners and five research organizations from six EU countries and Kazakhstan that bring together a wide knowledge and expertise, from bioscience to product development.

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