Vianova creates Latvia’s first bio asphalt

A unique, environmentally friendly and sustainable bio-asphalt road surface has been developed for the first time in Latvia. The project is being implemented by the road construction company SIA Vianova, continuing its work on environmentally friendly asphalt production. The main objective of the project is to create bio-asphalt using lignin – a renewable biopolymer – as a substitute for petroleum products, thus reducing CO2 emissions and environmental pollution.

In February 2023, Vianova launched the research project “Sustainable asphalt concrete mixtures with renewable biopolymer lignin” in collaboration with the Smart Materials and Technologies Competence Centre. The final phase of the project involves the construction of a trial section of bio-asphalt concrete pavement on the right lane of the national motorway A2 Riga-Sigulda-Estonia border (Veclaicene), 12.430–12.880 km. The construction of the trial section is planned for May (weather permitting). The trial will involve the construction of three different asphalt recipes to evaluate them in real-life conditions.

In road construction and other sectors, one of the biggest challenges is to replace non-renewable resources. This challenge is particularly difficult because oil is a non-renewable resource that is gradually running out. One of the alternatives that Vianova has also tested in its research is lignin, the second most common biopolymer after cellulose. Lignin can be used as a substitute for fossil raw materials, including in asphalt production. The chemical structure of lignin is similar to that of bitumen, allowing it to be used as a partial substitute for bitumen. In addition to replacing bitumen with lignin – 20% in the crushed stone mastic asphalt mix – recycled asphalt or milled asphalt is also included in the pavement in the amount of 30%. It is the use of recycled asphalt that reduces dependence on the import of high-quality raw materials.

Rolands Īzaks, Head of Production at Vianova, explains the long-term goal of the project: “This initiative is part of a broader strategy by which Vianova is developing its processes and products to reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry by promoting the principles of the circular economy.”

The research project included working with four different types of lignin to find the most suitable solution. Most of the research was carried out for the construction of bio-based asphalt concrete pavements and focused on the use of lignin in asphalt production, as well as the inclusion of recycled asphalt in the mix. Līga Gebauere, Research Project Manager, comments, “Vianova is continuously looking for innovation that can help achieve environmental sustainability goals while ensuring the highest possible quality of road construction. We are committed to continuing our research work in the future, investing resources and engaging professionals in the field to develop innovative solutions.”

Sandis Zvidriņš, Chairman of the Board of Vianova, comments on the importance of the research project: “This project is a big step forward for our company and the industry in general. We are pleased to be able to promote the integration of scientific research practices into real projects and demonstrate that sustainability and innovation can go hand in hand. We are delighted with the interest, participation and support of the stakeholders in making the project a success. This is the second time that Vianova has been involved in research projects, demonstrating its commitment to sustainable innovation in the sector.”

Vianova is a construction company with more than 13 years of experience. The company provides full-cycle road construction services and has continuously invested in development since its inception, keeping abreast of the latest road construction technologies and research trends.
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