Science - October 8, 2015

'We're on the right course'

Roelof Kleis

Who? Richard Gosselink
What? Bio-based Products researcher
Why? Involved in the development of the first bio-based asphalt, which was officially opened last week at an industrial park in Sas van Gent

What is so environmentally friendly about this asphalt?
‘Half of the bitumen in the asphalt has been replaced by lignin. Bitumen is extracted from petroleum, so it’s a fossil product. Lignin is a vegetable product and therefore renewable. The petrochemical industry guzzles energy and has high CO2 emissions. Also, the production of bitumen is declining. Refineries are focusing less and less on petroleum. So we expect a shortage of bitumen eventually.’

When will we have bio-based asphalt on the A2 motorway?
‘We’re not that far yet. The motorways use ZOAB, a sensitive kind of asphalt. Our experimental strips have a different surface layer. This is a trial. The risks are too great to do this on the motorway. But we do have plans to expand its application. Depending on the results in Zeeland, of course.’

Environmentally friendly asphalt got a lot of interest. Any weird questions?
‘Journalists always want to know if it’s already on the market and where you can order it. But this is a demonstration project. The trial strips have been there for three months. The official presentation was last week. The first results are encouraging we’re on the right course.’