Can we grow rubber now?
FarmandRanchJobs.com reported last week, that Washington State University scientists are beginning to explore a plant that may be able to grow rubber. Prickly lettuce, which has traditionally been considered a common crop weed contains a white latex-like substance in its stem. It has always been known that this weed contains a possible rubber polymer, but not until recently has the prospect of using this substance to create the natural version of silicone rubber been explored.
If the findings of this study are applied to the process of rubber production, it could potentially make prickly lettuce transform from a weed into a sought after cash crop. It would also reduce the dependency human beings have on petroleum products, which are the current primary means for producing synthetic rubber.
Synthetic rubber is commonly used for products such as tires, door and window profiles, hoses, belts, matting and much more. Around 15 billion kilograms of rubbers are produced each year around the world, two thirds of this production is synthetic rather than natural. Increasing the yield of natural rubbers would significantly improve the vast amount of
petroleum products found in everyday products and lower civilization’s carbon footprint.