Swedish road and infrastructure operator Svevia has decided to collaborate with Stora Enso in testing lignin in asphalt. Through this collaboration, Svevia aims to replace part of the oil-based binder with nature’s own binder – lignin, Lineo ™ by Stora Enso. The lignin containing asphalt is currently being tested out on Swedish roads.
Svevia is carrying out road paving work on road 224 between the towns of Sandbrink and Gnesta on behalf of the Swedish Transport Administration. Of the total 15-kilometre stretch, Svevia has chosen to test Lineo™ on a couple of hundred meters, where lignin will replace bitumen. Lignin was chosen as it is a bio-based natural binder found in trees with the potential of reducing the negative climate impact of asphalt.
“Asphalt consists of stone and bitumen, which is a product made from crude oil. If we can find something that can replace bitumen as a binder in the asphalt mass, our negative climate impact could be reduced dramatically, “explains Mattias Andersson, asphalt product specialist at Svevia. He continues explaining that Svevia has reviewed the lifecycle of the process from raw material to the paved road. In their production, the asphalt plants have switched to bio-based oil and use renewable electricity instead of fossil-based resources. Simultaneously, switching to renewable electricity is also underway in the quarries.
The industry still has developments to make in fully replacing bitumen. “In the Netherlands, lignin has been mixed into asphalt since 2015, and is used in production. But even there, they have only succeeded in replacing bitumen in a limited amount.”
Lignin is a complex plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of almost all dry-land plants. It binds cellulose and hemicellulose together, giving wood its stiffness, strength and resistance to rotting. Mattias Andersson believes that these are the properties that make it interesting for asphalt production. “All players in the road industry need to take responsibility in the transition to sustainable development. We are constantly trying to find solutions that allow us to reduce our negative climate impact. At Svevia's laboratory, we have tested different variants of, among other things, lignin, and when we presented an alternative that we believed in, the Swedish Transport Administration did not hesitate to let us test it on a stretch.”
Svevia’s first lignin-based asphalt experiment was carried out in September 2020, already providing promising results. “The surface looks good and homogeneous, it will be exciting to see what happens to the asphalt during winter, after snow removal and thawing brought on by spring. I think it will withstand these stresses and that we have something really good on the track,” concludes Mattias Andersson.
Stora Enso’s lignin has also been tested in other asphalt projects with good results. As a company, we actively work with our Lineo™ offering to discover further advantages in asphalt-making and replacing fossil-based materials with a bio-based solution.
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Part of the bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper. We believe that everything that is made from fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. Stora Enso has some 25 000 employees in over 30 countries. Our sales in 2019 were EUR 10.1 billion. Stora Enso shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki (STEAV, STERV) and Nasdaq Stockholm (STE A, STE R). In addition, the shares are traded in the USA as ADRs (SEOAY). storaenso.com
Svevia is the company that has chosen its own path. We are focused on building and managing roads and infrastructure. Our 1,900 employees are located in more than 100 locations throughout Sweden and we have a turnover of SEK 8.2 billion. Since 2011, Svevia has also been present in Norway. We are always moving towards the way of the future to build and take care of bridges, airports, ports, railways, parks, roads and other infrastructure. But we are also on the move here and now, around the clock, from north to south and from west to east, to sweep, plow and care for roads, streets, parks and squares. For more information, please visit svevia.se
Source: Stora Enso