Avantium and Roelofs construct world's first test road with lignin produced in the Netherlands

Avantium and Roelofs construct world's first test road with lignin produced in the Netherlands

Infrastructure company Roelofs today starts construction of the world's first test road of bio-asphalt made with Dutch lignin. The lignin is produced by Avantium, a leading technology company in renewable chemistry. The all-vegetable lignin is used as a replacement for bitumen in asphalt, which is extracted from crude oil.

In cooperation with the Province of Groningen, the 250-meter lignin-based test road 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 that aims to demonstrate that lignin as a bitumen substitute works effectively at scale and leads to significant CO2 reduction in road construction.

Avantium develops and commercializes innovative technologies for the production of plant-based chemicals and materials. In its DAWN pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl (the Netherlands), Avantium converts woody feedstock into industrial sugars and lignin. Lignin can be used for energy generation, but is also suitable for many high-value applications, such as for bio-asphalt. A total of about 1,000 kg of Avantium lignin was added to asphalt to replace some of the bitumen used to produce the top layer of the test section on the N987. Annelie Jongerius, senior scientist at Avantium and responsible for the valorization of lignin, said, "We are delighted to show the potential of our lignin for the production of bio-asphalt. It is a great example of realizing Avantium's mission to replace fossil chemicals and materials with renewable alternatives." The DAWN biorefinery was made possible with a financial contribution from the Province of Groningen.

CHAPLIN XL's asphalt-producing partners have improved the process to produce bio-asphalt in conventional asphalt plants, allowing the lignin-based asphalt technology to be scaled up. Avantium is working closely with Roelofs, which has ambitions to switch to bio-asphalt. Roelofs will also construct a second test section on the N987 with conventional Kraft lignin from a Finnish paper mill. Gerard Hoiting, general manager at Roelofs, is pleased with the cooperation: "As a company, we have the ambition to be climate neutral in 2030. Not only internally, but also with clients and partners we look for innovations and concrete applications and inspire each other towards a better world. This collaboration is a great example of that."

The CHAPLIN XL partners will extensively analyze the lignin-based test road for performance, techno-economic feasibility and environmental benefits through a life cycle analysis. Preliminary results indicate that lignin-based asphalt allows for a significant reduction in carbon footprint compared to current fossil fuel-based asphalt. Martin Junginger, professor of Biobased Economy at Utrecht University and project coordinator of CHAPLIN XL, explains, "The widespread application of lignin in road construction in the future requires that road builders can demonstrate bio-asphalt financially, technically and environmentally in tenders. We have therefore noticed a great interest from road builders worldwide in our test results."

IJzebrand Rijzebol, deputy of the province of Groningen, is pleased that the innovative test road is being constructed on the N987 near Groningen Seaports and Chemiepark Delfzijl. Production of the asphalt will also take place in Groningen, at APW (Asfalt Production Westerbroek) in Westerbroek. Chemport Europe's ecosystem in the Dutch northern region is known as a leader in green chemistry and in reducing CO2 emissions. "The northern region of the Netherlands has high ambitions to say goodbye to fossil raw materials and switch to a circular economy that is also based on regionally available raw materials such as sugar and wood residues. The CHAPLIN XL partners share this ambition and the bio-asphalt test road therefore fits well with our goals."

View the Chemport Europe website


The CHAPLIN XL (Collaboration in aspHalt Applications with LIgniN) project members consist of academic and industrial organizations. Project members are Avantium, Roelofs, Utrecht University, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Asphalt Knowledge Center, H4A Infratechniek and Stichting Biobased Delta. The Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO) has awarded the CHAPLIN XL project a €1.5 million subsidy in 2020.

Learn more about Chaplin XL

About Roelofs

For Roelofs, working on public space means working on the future. With our broad approach, we deliver meaning and added value to the development and realization of infrastructure projects. Our expertise includes area development, mobility, water, sewerage and raw materials. As a knowledge partner, Roelofs masters the entire process of a project; from advice and design, to realization, management and maintenance. We want to share our knowledge and work with our strategic partners on a high-quality use of public space with an eye for the climate and future generations. To make circular intentions and environmental plans concrete, Roelofs has set itself a goal: to be climate neutral in 2030.

View the website of Roelofs

About Avantium

Avantium is a leading technology development company and a forerunner in sustainable chemistry. Avantium develops new technologies based on renewable carbon sources as an alternative to fossil-based chemicals and plastics. The company currently has three technologies in the demonstration phase. The most advanced technology is the YXY® plant-to-plastic technology that catalytically converts plant sugars into a wide range of chemicals and plastics, such as PEF (polyethylene furanoate). Avantium has successfully demonstrated the YXY technology at its pilot plant in Geleen, the Netherlands. The second technology is the Dawn Technology™ that converts not-for-food-intended biomass into industrial sugars and lignin to transition the chemical and materials industries to non-fossil feedstocks. In 2018, Avantium opened the DAWN pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl, the Netherlands. The third technology is called Ray Technology™ and catalytically converts industrial sugars into vegetable MEG (monoethylene glycol): plantMEG™. Avantium is scaling up Ray Technology™ and the demonstration plant in Delfzijl is slated to open in November 2019. In addition to developing and commercializing renewable chemistry technologies, the company also provides advanced catalysis R&D services and systems to customers in the refining and chemical industries. Avantium collaborates with like-minded companies around the world to create revolutionary sustainable chemistry solutions from invention to commercial scale. Avantium's shares are listed on Euronext Amsterdam and Euronext Brussels (symbol: AVTX). Avantium is included in the Euronext Amsterdam SmallCap Index (AScX). The offices and head office are located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

View the website of Avantium