In Norway, a startup has developed a road repair process that uses recycled asphalt and a proprietary plant-based adhesive that sequesters carbon, offering a greener alternative for the particularly polluting road construction market.
The company—appropriately named Carbon Crusher—starts by grinding up existing asphalt from stretches of road in need of repair. This reduces the emissions normally emitted in making and shipping new asphalt. The ground asphalt is then mashed together with lignin, a byproduct of paper industry. The lignin replaces bitumen—a sticky petroleum-based product traditionally used as asphalt binder. Currently, lignin is burned for energy in Norway, releasing carbon dioxide.
“We’re making roads that are part of the solution to the climate crisis, not part of the problem,” cofounder Haakon Brunell tells Fast Company. “And it also happens to be a cheaper, more durable way of rehabilitating roads.”
Carbon Crusher says maintenance and construction of roads emit around 400 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. “Today we take out around a ton of C02 from the atmosphere for every 60 feet of road,” says Brunell. “We want to increase that.”
The company is currently looking to expand business outside of Norway, and is focusing more on repair and new construction. “The world doesn’t necessarily need new roads,” Brunell adds. “It needs better roads.”