Shell has launched a new bitumen product to help reduce the impact of asphalt production and paving on local air quality.
Field studies and laboratory tests showed that the new asphalt technology reduced the levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and particulate matter (PM) by an average of 40% during asphalt production and road paving when compared to conventional bitumen.
'Road infrastructure is essential to modern living but urbanisation and denser transport and industrial activity have resulted in worsening levels of local air quality,' said Jason Wong, vice president of Shell Global Bitumen and Sulphur.
'The need for cleaner construction and transport infrastructure requires every industry to do its part in developing cleaner ways of working.'
Developed in Shell’s major R&D centre in Bangalore, India, Shell Bitumen FreshAir consists of a bitumen technology that 'acts directly with chemical compounds affecting air quality, as well as odour-releasing molecules'.
The chemical reaction takes place in situ at a molecular level, helping to cut specific gases and particulates or minimize the release into the air during production and paving, reducing the impact on local air quality, Shell said.
Switching to Shell Bitumen FreshAir is estimated to have a similar effect on one type of particulate matter, PM10, as planting an average of 16 trees; or a similar impact on the reduction of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) equivalent to removing an average of 40 cars per kilometre of asphalt laid per year.
The technology has been externally monitored in field trials in cities in France, the Netherlands, Thailand and the UK and will be available in a number of countries from this year on.