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Shell's FreshAir bitumen 'cuts emissions by 40%'

20 March 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Shell has launched a new bitumen product that it claims can reduce the impact of asphalt production and paving on local air quality.

The new product, called ‘Shell Bitumen FreshAir’, has been shown to reduce emissions of specific gases and particulates from asphalt mixtures during production and paving by an average of 40% when compared to conventional bitumen, Shell has claimed.

It has been tested with highways contractors and air quality experts during externally monitored field trials in cities in France, the Netherlands, Thailand and the UK.

It can be used with existing asphalt mixing and laying processes and will be available in a number of countries from this year onwards.

Developed in Shell’s R&D centre in Bangalore, India, Shell Bitumen FreshAir consists of a new bitumen technology that acts directly with chemical compounds affecting air quality, as well as odour-releasing molecules. This 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 has claimed.

Switching to Shell Bitumen FreshAir is estimated to have a similar effect on 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, according to the oil giant's estimates.

Jason Wong, vice president of Shell Global Bitumen and Sulphur said: “Road infrastructure is essential to modern living but urbanisation and denser transport and industrial activity have resulted in worsening levels of local air quality. The need for cleaner construction and transport infrastructure requires every industry to do its part in developing cleaner ways of working.”

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