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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Towards high-performance bitumen that is more environmentally friendly

Nantes Excellence Trajectory
The BRANCH project aims to replace petroleum resources with renewable materials and improve the performance of cold bitumen emulsions. It was selected as part of the scientific priority "Future Industry - Advanced Manufacturing Technologies" of the Nantes Excellence Trajectory initiative's call for interdisciplinary research projects.

The public works industry is currently highly dependent on oil resources. The progressive scarcity of oil is leading to changes in refining strategy and variations in the performance of products derived from it, such as bitumen.

enrobé bitumeux

Couche de fondation d'une route en enrobé de type « grave bitume »

Un enrobé bitumineux  est un mélange granulaire poreux composé de graviers,

de sable et de liant hydrocarboné (bitume) appliqué en une ou plusieurs couches

pour la construction d’infrastructures de transport linéaire :chaussée routière,

piste aéroportuaire et plateforme.

Current processes used for the production of bitumen and bituminous mixtures have a significant impact on the environment and workers due to high manufacturing temperatures and compounds derived from petroleum resources themselves.
The low temperature process using a bitumen emulsion to coat the aggregates is an alternative solution suitable for traditional processes to save energy and limit the production of greenhouse gases.


The project brings together an interdisciplinary consortium "Civil Engineering/Bio-processes/Physicochemistry" around three public laboratories of the I-Site NExT initiative and one of the largest European industrial construction groups.

The project partners aim to provide short-term alternatives for the sustainable development of processes and products in the field of road surfaces, from the laboratory to the industrial scale.

More specifically, the objectives of the BRANCH project are to replace petroleum resources with renewable materials and to improve the performance of bituminous mixes produced cold from bitumen emulsion in the following four areas:

- stabilize the bitumen emulsion with biosourced solid particles,
- check the breaking of the emulsion regardless of the mineralogical nature of the aggregate to be coated,
- modify the rheology of bitumen by adding nanoparticles to increase the field of use of cold mixes,
- assess the environmental performance of these new materials in air and water.

goutte stabilisée

Image de microscopie électronique d’une goutte

stabilisée par des particules cellulosiques (cellulose bactérienne).

The bioparticles used will be made up of forest industry derivatives and shells (chitin), which are renewable products derived from biomass.

The NANO team has been developing expertise for several years on the stabilization of so-called Pickering emulsions by using biosourced particles, and will bring fundamental knowledge for bitumen stabilization.

  • Duration of the project: 4 years (Sept. 2018 – Sept. 2022)
  • Academic partners:
    • INRA – BIA
    • Univ Nantes – CEISAM (UMR CNRS 6230)
  •  Associated private partner:
    • Eurovia Management (Groupe VINCI)
  • Budget: 160 500 €