Global energy and petrochemical company Shell has launched Shell Bitumen CarbonSink, a new bio-component binder that locks carbon within roads instead of releasing it back into the atmosphere.

The binder is claimed to lock carbon into asphalt and bitumen, turning roads into technical ‘carbon sinks’.

“As the asphalt is recyclable, most of this carbon will not re-enter the atmosphere, even at the end of its life. High levels of asphalt recycling ensure that carbon is kept within a circular economy and stored within other applications,” says a spokesman for the company.

The technical carbon sink created by Shell Bitumen CarbonSink reduces the carbon footprint of one tonne of bitumen by up to 250 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent and the carbon footprint of one tonne of asphalt by up to 13 kg of CO2 equivalent.1, 2 This means up to six tonnes of CO2 equivalent can be locked in per kilometre of road.3

“This solution is a great example of how innovation can help decarbonise construction and improve circularity at the same time,” says Raman Ojha, Vice President, Shell Construction and Road. “We want to be a partner for change within the construction sector, supporting our customers by providing them with decarbonisation solutions as we work towards confronting construction’s carbon challenge, together.”

As well as removing and storing carbon, Shell Bitumen CarbonSink also helps construction companies to improve the sustainability of their operations by reducing the need for non-renewable resources in asphalt pavement construction.

Shell Bitumen CarbonSink, which has already been deployed in the UK by Aggregate Industries for its SuperLow-Carbon asphalt, is being launched in multiple markets to be used at scale across the global road network. n


1. Shell Bitumen CarbonSink reduces carbon footprint by 250 kg carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of bitumen based on the biogenic carbon component used;

2. Based on five per cent binder content within the asphalt mixture;

3. Based on a model single surface layer with 50 mm depth, and five per cent binder content.