The Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives (PENRA) was created to integrate and accelerate the incubation, demonstration, market entry, and growth of a domestic natural rubber industry. PENRA focuses on the creation of the technology, scientific foundations, and the private partnerships needed to support the introduction of sources of natural rubber alternatives. PENRA also integrates and manages collaborator contributions, provides assistance with IP protection and technology transfer. There five development tracks within PENRA that are as follows:
PENRA development tracks for Russian Dandelion (TKS):
Track 1: Germplasm Improvement - seed acquisition, seed biology, selection, propagation, breeding and biotechnology which result in enhanced adaptability and rubber content.
Track 2:: Production System Optimization - physiology, cultural inputs, integrated pest management and crop management practices which optimize natural rubber and seed production in improved TKS germplasm selections.
Track 3: BioProcessing Optimization - harvesting and processing strategies which optimize the extraction of rubber and associated by-products from TKS roots. Bench-top and pilot scale systems leading to commercial levels of TKS rubber processing.
Track 4: Byproduct Processing and Utilization - natural rubber extraction from TKS. Processes to use the abundant carbohydrate by-products of TKS remaining after rubber extraction for potential ethanol generation. In addition, high-grade inulin derived from carbohydrate extraction may be utilized for other food products.
Track 5: Commercial Validation and Utilization - TKS-derived natural rubber products for manufacturing, transportation, defense applications, and other purposes.