Dr. Katrina Cornish, Professor and Ohio Research Scholar, Bio-Emergent Materials, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, forecasts that a rubber apocalypse is on the horizon. One hundred percent of this natural resource is imported, amounting to millions of tons of rubber and rubber goods each year. Due to many factors, the most important of which are decimation of rubber trees due to disease, climate change and extreme weather events, supply has gone down, prices have gone up and there has been a drop in imports. To help mitigate this situation, Dr. Cornish is working on the domestic production of rubber and has developed a number of solutions at Ohio State, from latex-producing crops, to extracting latex from the plants, to producing rubber and rubber products. One of the crops she has refined to produce latex is TK Dandelions, also known as Buckeye Gold, grown at Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Wooster Campus. Buckeye Gold can be grown either in fields, harvested annually, or by using a hydroponics approach Dr. Cornish developed, which allows harvesting every two months.
Although there is demand for both farming and manufacturing, the process and the infrastructure for producing and distributing such crops is not in place. Dr. Cornish said, "the US industry and government is reactive instead of proactive...and disaster is, quite honestly, inevitable."
Read more about Dr. Cornish's work, highlighted in the Research and innovation spotlight published on Ohio State Impact: This professor is pioneering sustainable rubber.