Ecofalt: Circular cycle lanes

The Dutch like to cycle. It is a sustainable alternative to public transport, cars or other means of transportation. Cycle lanes are necessary for cycling. The first circular cycle lane was opened this spring, in Twente. It was made with Ecofalt, a circular alternative to asphalt, which is also produced sustainably. Abbink Boekelo Wegenbouw constructed the cycle lane. It is another step towards making the regional (cycle) road network more sustainable. 
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In short

  • People are looking for ways to make the construction of cycle lanes more sustainable.
  • Abbink Boekelo Wegenbouw developed Ecofalt
  • The first circular cycle lane made with Ecofalt was opened in Twente, in May 2020.
  • An OP Oost subsidy was granted to Ecofalt 2.0
Sustainable cycle lanes

The first Twente cycle path, made of recycled asphalt, is located between Denekamp and Nordhorn. The old cycle path was demolished, and a more environmentally friendly asphalt was made from the waste of the demolition work. Abbink Boekelo constructed the new cycle lane on behalf of the Province of Overijssel, in collaboration with 2R Recycling and Twence.

Bio-based asphalt

The name of the material used for the surface of the road is Ecofalt. This material contains less bitumen from fossil materials. At least half is bio-based, made from products such as sunflower oil. All the materials from the old cycle lane have also been used for the new cycle lane in Twente; almost no new materials were needed. So, besides its environmental benefits, the path is also partly circular. The foundation was also made with waste materials that normally do not serve any purpose. It was made with bottom ash from Twence, which uses biomass to make energy. Bottom ash is the unusable residual product that remains after incineration. Less new gravel and sand is needed by using this as the layer underneath the cycle lane.

Sustainable production and construction

The asphalt was not heated to 180 degrees for the construction of the cycle lane. It was produced cold, which minimised CO2 emissions. Also, gas was no longer needed for production. The 770-metre-long cycle lane resulted in significant gas savings; as much as the annual consumption of four households. That equates to 13,000 kg of CO2 savings. The application of Ecofalt also provides major logistical advantages. Transport is no longer dependent on planning that is based around keeping the asphalt warm. Ecofalt can be used all year round, in outdoor temperatures down to -10°C. 

Origin of Ecofalt

Ecofalt is a spin-off of the parent company Abbink Boekelo Wegenbouw. The idea for the production of this circular material arose about seven years ago, from the idea that the warm asphalt industry should be able to change. Abbink Boekelo Wegenbouw wanted to start producing without heating and with ecologically friendly products. A pilot started in 2012. The very first mixture was applied to the road in the municipality of Enschede. Ecofalt was tested and monitored in practice. An upgrade of the product followed after a few more pilots. The process of trial and error ultimately resulted in a mixture that is fundamentally very good. For now, Ecofalt can only be used on cycle lanes and B-roads. It is not (yet) suitable for highways and other motorways. Abbink Boekelo Wegenbouw will continue developing Ecofalt. That is why this circular cycle lane in Twente is being monitored by Talent in the East, one of the consortium partners for the OP-Oost project.

Date: 21 July 2020
Source of tekst: Ecofalt
Author: twente.com
Audio / video: Ecofalt

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