Biobased asphalt with lignin can cut emissions up to 60%

1 May 2023 – The Dutch asphalt sector can reduce emissions by 30% to 60% by using biobased asphalt in which fossil bitumen has been replaced by lignin and other components from plant residues, according to new figures from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. The potential savings are huge, since 10 million tonnes of asphalt containing 300,000 tonnes of bitumen are produced annually in the Netherlands alone.
A key advantage of lignin is its ability to sequester carbon for longer periods of time. As a result, less CO2 is released into the atmosphere. New calculations show that biobased asphalt in which 50% of fossil bitumen is replaced by lignin contributes to avoiding 85 to 170 kilotonnes (kt) of CO2 equivalent per year in 2050, based on 550 kt CO2 eq per year emitted by the current asphalt sector in the Netherlands1. With 100% bitumen replacement, the savings are expected to be doubled. This leads to about 30-60% reduction in total CO2 emissions for the current Dutch asphalt sector. Extending these numbers to the European market, with 11 million tonnes of bitumen use in asphalt per year, a CO2 emission reduction of up to 12,000 kt CO2 eq per year can be achieved. On a global scale (90 million tonnes of bitumen per year), even savings of up to 102,000 kt CO2 eq per year can be achieved. As such, this development makes a significant contribution to achieving European and global climate goals. The European Union’s ambition is to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990.

Foto: Wageningen University & Research (WUR)

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