After five years of research and development by Eiffage Route teams, and an initial trial in 2020 on 2 km of the A40 motorway, APRR motorways have just completed the renovation of 270 m² of parking spaces on the Dracé service area (A6, north of Lyon) using the Biophalt® process. This asphalt mix, which includes recycled materials and a plant-based binder and requires lower temperatures for its manufacture and application, has mechanical and technical properties equivalent to those of conventional asphalt.
An environmentally friendly plant-based surfacing
Biophalt® asphalt developed by Eiffage Route uses a biobased binder made from pitch, a by-product of the paper industry, which replaces the petroleum-based bitumen usually used. It allows the recycling of more than 40% of road asphalt aggregates from existing pavements. This performance makes it possible to preserve a significant quantity of non-renewable natural resources (new quarry materials, aggregates and binder).
It also makes it possible to lower the temperature of the asphalt mix by 20 to 30°C compared to normal; this limits energy consumption, allows less CO2 to be emitted, and offers work personnel additional comfort. The use of this solution for the recent renovation of 270 m² of car parks at the Dracé (A6) motorway service area not only reduced the environmental impact of the worksite, but above all made it possible to obtain a neutral carbon footprint.
This type of material makes APRR motorways part of the ecological transition by enabling them to meet the challenge of low-carbon roads. The technique of using plant-based binders in asphalt mixes is set to expand in the coming months, with the aim of renovating some 15 service areas per year on the APRR and AREA networks, as well as a vast renovation project on a 14 km section of the A6 motorway (Lyon-Paris direction) in the Auxerre sector (Yonne), which is due to start in mid-March 2023.
“Combining technical and environmental performance on our worksites is possible thanks to asphalt mixes containing plant-based binders. In addition, the organisation of the works also counts in the overall balance of our operations. For the renovation of the Dracé service area, the work was carried out locally, by an Eiffage branch located 20 km from the site”, explains Jean-Emmanuel Garel, Deputy Director of Operations (APRR).