US carbon negative materials company Origin Materials and Southern African commercial asphalt manufacturer AECI Much Asphalt have launched a programme to create a novel low-carbon bitumen.
Origin Materials produces low and negative carbon materials, with the mission to enable the world’s transition to sustainable materials, which is what the partnership aims to achieve in the asphalt sector.
At the heart of the programme lies Origin Materials’ patented technology platform, which turns inexpensive, sustainable wood residues into cost-advantaged, carbon-negative materials that reduce the need for fossil resources.
AECI Much Asphalt is an AECI Group company and AECI is a strategic investor in Origin Materials. The partnership with Origin Materials reflects the commitment of AECI Much Asphalt and its parent company to deliver innovative environmental solutions.
“AECI Much Asphalt and Origin are both committed to innovative, sustainable solutions for bringing the globe to net zero as quickly as possible,” says Origin Materials co-CEO Rich Riley.
He adds that, with AECI Much Asphalt’s leadership position in asphalt and its extensive reach as a supplier to the African continent, the company expects the partnership will result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and will play a key role in Origin’s mission to enable the world’s transition to sustainable materials.
“AECI has formalised its strategy to 2025, which has sustainability at its core,” adds AECI group executive and AECI Much Asphalt chairperson Dean Mulqueeny, who notes that the roll-out of the strategy includes the company’s commitments and targets in terms of carbon intensity reductions.
“The partnership with Origin is aligned with this and exemplifies our brand promise of enabling ‘a better world’ through our products and services,” he comments.
For AECI Much Asphalt, the partnership with Origin is a significant step in reducing its own carbon footprint and that of its customers.
AECI Much Asphalt plant and technical director Herman Marais says the programme is significant owing to the vital role of bitumen as the binder in asphalt production and the direct relation of the bitumen to the long-term performance of asphalt.
Bitumen is the glue that holds the whole asphalt mix together and aids in compaction during the paving process. Once the asphalt has cooled, the bitumen provides the necessary stiffness and durability to the asphalt layer to last for its design life.
“Although we currently only measure the carbon footprint of our processes during the manufacture of our asphalt products, the carbon footprint of the bitumen itself is high. Turning Origin Materials’ carbon-neutral feedstock into an alternative asphalt binder therefore makes huge environmental sense,” says Marais.
The collaboration with Origin Materials is expected to create considerable value in the developing African market, where AECI Much Asphalt is active, and could revolutionise global bitumen production, the companies note.