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Japanese researchers 'tap' mushrooms for rubber
Tokyo, December 2
Japanese researchers say they have produced rubber from a natural substance extracted from an edible, wild mushroom commonly found in the country.
Researchers at Gunma University, west of Tokyo, have not only produced rubber from the chichitake mushroom but the end-product has the advantage of not containing a protein that can cause allergies, said Hiroshi Mitomo, head of the research team at the university's biological and chemical engineering department.
"We are working on this project with the aim of trying to commercialise the product," Mitomo told Reuters on Thursday.
Before that happens, however, there are a few issues to address ? including the fact that it take more than 10 kg (22 lb) of mushrooms to make to make 1 kg of rubber.
Also, the mushrooms are not grown commercially, are found only at the height of summer and rot after only about 10 days.
"The biggest obstacle will be trying to reduce production costs," Mitomo said.
Currently, producing rubber from the mushrooms is more than 10 times as costly as getting it by tapping rubber trees or making it from petroleum products.
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