First road made of 100 percent Dutch Lignin

Infrastructure company Roelofs started on June 11th the construction of the world’s first test road made from bio-asphalt with Dutch lignin. This lignin is produced by Avantium, a technology company specialized in renewable chemistry. The fully plant-based lignin is used as a substitute for bitumen in asphalt, which is derived from crude oil. In collaboration with the province of Groningen, the 250-metre-long lignin-based test section will be constructed in the north of the Netherlands, on the N987 between Siddeburen and Wagenborgen. This test road is part of the CHAPLIN XL project, a collaboration of industrial and academic parties aiming to demonstrate that lignin as bitumen replacement works effectively at scale and leads to a significant CO2 reduction of road construction. Previous tests with lignin asphalt used so-called Kraft lignin from a Finnish paper mill. In this case, a different type of lignin is used, which is made entirely from wood waste originating from the Netherlands, and is produced in the Netherlands.

Avantium develops and commercializes innovative technologies for the production of plant-based chemicals and materials. In its DAWN pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl (the Netherlands), the company converts woody raw materials into industrial sugars and lignin. Lignin can be used for power generation, but is also suitable for many high-quality applications, such as for bio-asphalt. In total, about 1,000 kg of Avantium lignin was added to the asphalt to replace part of the bitumen for the production of the top layer of the test section on the N987.

CHAPLIN XL’s asphalt-producing partners have improved the process of producing bio-asphalt in conventional asphalt plants, allowing lignin-based asphalt technology to be scaled up. Avantium works closely with Roelofs, who aims to switch to bio-asphalt. Roelofs will also build a second test section on the N987 with conventional Kraft lignin from a Finnish paper mill.
(Innovative materials 2021 3)