Nynas continues its research journey towards more sustainable roads

In a recent study, the Nynas research team evaluated the potential of lignin, a biomass from the forest industry, as an alternative raw material in bitumen binders for paving. This is part of the company’s ongoing effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the road construction industry.

Nynas is continuously investing in extensive research and development to design high-performance binders incorporating biogenic carbon. One significant result of this endeavour is the launch of Nypol RE, a product range that combines all the performance advantages of a polymer modified bitumen with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

Continuing this journey, the Nynas research team is currently exploring the potential use of alternative biomass from the forest industry in road construction. Dr. Xiaohu Lu, Nynas Chief Scientist, recently discussed the progress of the company’s latest research on bituminous binders and asphalts containing lignin at the Transport forum, the Nordic region’s largest transport research event.

“Lignin differs in chemistry and physical properties, depending on the material source and industrial process,” he explained in his presentation. “This variation is central to Nynas research, where different types of lignin, including those extracted from the wood and paper industry or through biomass conversion, have been investigated in both bitumen and polymer-modified bitumen.”

Laboratory tests showed that bituminous binders with lignin exhibited comparable or improved properties compared to regular bitumen.

“However, the properties of the lignin binders are affected largely by the selected base bitumen, the content and type of lignin, as well as the mixing conditions,” emphasised Dr. Lu.

In terms of asphalt properties, the study found no significant differences between the asphalts with lignin binders and those with conventional bitumen when it comes to stiffness, fatigue life, and crack resistance. However, the asphalt containing lignin-binders showed lower ageing sensitivity, which is consistent with the observations made on the binders.

“By leveraging advanced research, Nynas continuously develops knowledge and products that contribute to sustainability in customer applications. As governments ask for more sustainable solutions in infrastructure projects, this type of work becomes more relevant,” states Dr. Luis Bastardo-Zambrano, Nynas Technical Director.

“However, on our innovation journey the product performance is always in focus, to continue producing sustainable binders for high-quality pavements.”

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