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The passion of chemical engineer Sayeda Nowrozon Nahar is asphalt, sustainable asphalt to be precise. Wouldn't it be great if we could soon drive on roads made of bio-asphalt throughout the Netherlands?
"Together with my Road Engineering colleagues within the Structural Reliability expertise group of Buildings, Infrastructure and Maritime, I investigate the properties and performance of materials and structures of asphalt roads. I have done in depth research into the chemo-mechanical properties of modified bitumen as a binder in asphalt. And there are a variety of asphalt compositions, each with its own functional properties, such as sound-absorbing, extra durable or weather-resistant."
"Bitumen experts sometimes say: once you’ve delved into this, it never lets you go. But because roadbuilding is becoming more sustainable, it is inevitable that binding agents in asphalt based on fossil fuels, such as bitumen, will make way for more sustainable alternatives, such as lignin. Lignin comes from trees and plants, and is abundant. Therefore, this raw material for binding has the potential to replace bitumen. We now know lignin mainly as a waste material from paper production and biorefineries. Giving the material a new function in the production of asphalt is an environmental gain. We are working on an asphalt binder based on lignin and with more functional properties than traditional bitumen. Wouldn't it be great if we could soon drive on roads made of bio-asphalt throughout the Netherlands."
"Before I came to TNO, I worked as a researcher in the R&D of a producer of specialty products of bitumen such as polymer modified bitumen and bitumen emulsions. The research I did there was more driven by market, client and application, often with tight deadlines. This is a different dynamic than here at TNO where innovation is the focus and we can give research more time to mature, be more critical and explore more options. Test moments are then very exciting: what we have thought out carefully at nanometre level should function and be applicable on a large kilometrage scale.
"Other knowledge institutes involved in the application of lignin follow our research closely, and vice versa. Together with partners in the asphalt production chain, we have joined forces in CHAPLIN, Collaboration in aspHalt Applications with LIgniN: a consortium that wants to contribute to the greening of road construction. Together you can achieve more than on your own, I am convinced of that. Working together, inside and outside TNO, will certainly accelerate the development of 'green' asphalt."
"At TNO I feel at home. A clear vision of how we can make the world a little better with our innovations and the drive to constantly innovate is a mindset that I share with the people around me. Every day I am inspired and challenged to grow and enrich my potential and I want to be such a source of inspiration for the people around me. The fact that I can set out my own path at TNO to grow in this influencer role underlines my conviction that TNO believes in me."