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Only by going beyond the traditional testing can you create something that breaks the mould in terms of product development, according to Bob Allan, Technical Director, Aggregate Industries, who was speaking with Richard Taylor, Global Technical Development Manager, Shell, on this week’s Highways Voices.

Last week Aggregate Industries and Shell launched the UK’s first ever commercially available biogenic asphalt. SuperLow-Carbon asphalt has been developed in partnership with Shell Bitumen as a pioneering product for more sustainable pavement projects. In an industry first, SuperLow-Carbon uses Shell’s Low Carbon Bitumen in a unique formula that utilises improved production processes and alternative energy sources to lower its embodied carbon footprint. It also includes a biogenic material that effectively locks CO2 within the asphalt rather than releasing it back into the atmosphere, which creates a ‘carbon sink’ – something that absorbs and stores more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.

“From a research and development perspective, when you’re assessing materials that are not traditional refinery residues, you have to go beyond the simple kind of index and empirical tests that we have today. And so when we were making the research for this particular biogenic material, we did quite a lot of fundamental tests around the chemistry of the product, how the product evolved with ageing, obviously, how it behaved, in simple terms in mixtures. And so it’s not really a case of just making a simple substitution and then checking the index tests for material, you have to actually delve a lot deeper to actually understand whether this material is going to behave as a suitable road binder for the longer term,” said Mr Allen.

Mr Taylor added: “We are moving the industry towards a net zero asphalt pavement world, we’re going to see the development of a net zero asphalt roadmap by National Highways soon, for example. And so it’s important for us to develop the right kind of products that the industry is going to need going forward. I think there’s a growing interest in how materials last, the thinking started to align very strongly with the circular economy in terms of longer lasting materials closing the loop recycling, but alongside a warm mix for minimising the inputs. There’s also a need to minimise the embodied carbon within the bitumen.”

In the podcast you can also hear news from our partners including how ADEPT’s Smart Places Live Labs programme sees half its projects led by women, who’ve released a video about it, that ITS (UK) has held a special meeting of its Women in ITS Forum to mark International Women’s Day, more details of LCRIG’s Planned Innovation Festival and the TTF reports about the latest on the Manual for Smart Streets.

You’ll also hear why Amey and Kent County Council win Adrian’s Accolade.

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ADEPT Live Labs:

The Value of Trees project is funded by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund

Information on how ADEPT is working on Climate Change can be found here:

ITS (UK) YouTube channel

LCRIG website:

Manual for Smart Streets blog:


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