60 per cent less emissions with biobased asphalt

The Dutch Wageningen Food & Biobased Research found that by replacing fossil-based bitumen in asphalt with biobased lignin, the Dutch asphalt industry can save 30 to 60% in CO2 emissions.

In traditional asphalt, bitumen is used as a binder. It glues the particles in the material together and provides solidity. However, bitumen is made of fossil fuels. Lignin, on the other hand, is a substance found in plant matter and a waste material from paper and bio-ethanol production.

According to the calculations of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, by replacing 50% of bitumen with lignin, 85 to 170 kiloton CO2 is prevented. If all bitumen is replaced, the savings are expected to be doubled. This could lead to a reduction of 30 to 60% CO2 emissions in the Dutch asphalt sector.

The European market uses 11 million tons of bitumen in asphalt annually. If this is replaced by lignin, it could save 12,000 kilotons of CO2 equivalent per year, and on a global scale 102,000 kilotons.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has been working on biobased asphalt for the past 10 years. In various places in the Netherlands, trial patches have been applied to test the lignin-based asphalt. The bitumen in these patches has been replaced with lignin for max 50%. Trials with 100% lignin will start later this year.

Image by suwichan pralomram via Pixabay