A plant-based road surface is under development in France

A French region is currently trialling a new road surface which replaces oil with a plant-based bitumen as a binding agent.

A plant-based road surface is under development in France

In France, trials have begun of a new road surface that does not use oil, but instead replaces it with a vegetable-based binder. 

Vegetables are of increasing importance in the modern world. Veganism is growing, Ten Kate is using vegetable-based fairings on their race-winning WorldSSP Yamaha R6, and now France is using vegetable products in place of oil in its road surfaces.

It is not the first new road surface development of recent times. Also in France, at the beginning of last year, we reported on a new road surface that could thaw itself in the winter, and regulate its own temperature. In 2019, in Britain, the M6 was the host of a trial of a rubberised road surface; and in 2021 Highways England began using a new road surfacing material that was designed to prolong the life of roads.

This is thanks to Biophalt, which uses plant-based bitumen in place of the traditionally-used oil as a binder in its road surface. 

It is currently being trialled by Eiffage Route, which says that with Biophalt, “road maintenance can now be carried out in carbon neutrality thanks to the contribution of a regeneration plant binder, from co-products of the paper industry.”

Biophalt is also able to be manufactured at lower temperatures than regular asphalt, which leads to energy savings in its production process, and became the first road surface product to be given the label of ‘low-carbon’ at the 2019 Innovation Routes and Streets competition. 

Most recently, it was the Haute-Garonne region that decided to try Biophalt, resurfacing 1.6km of road in Merville between Grenade and Montaigut-sur-Save. 

In this resurfacing, Biophalt saved 47 tons of CO2, and 270 tons of new materials, according to Le Repaire des Motards.

Environmentally speaking, the benefits of Biophalt cannot be underestimated. However, as with all environmentally beneficial products, seemingly, Biophalt is more expensive than the more usual oil-based asphalt. 

It is a common problem which both ordinary people and authority organisations alike have to contend with. It is more environmentally friendly to drive an electric car than a petrol one, but the electrics cost more. It is more environmentally friendly to use renewable energy like solar and wind than energy from harmful sources like coal or gas, but there is less money to be made in renewables for the energy companies, and more money to be spent on them for ordinary people, if they want to have solar panels on their roof, for example.

With Biophalt, we have the same issue, but we are still relatively early in its development, so perhaps the cost factor can be reduced in the future. 

The Best Motorcycles for Beginners | Best bikes for new riders from 300cc to 700cc

The Best Motorcycles for Beginners | Best bikes for new riders from 300cc to 700cc