Bitumen and PVC are often used as the basis for roofing products because they give high-quality products with a long lifetime. The downside is that both bitumen and PVC are, like many other materials used in roofing products, made from fossil petroleum and their production causes relatively high CO2 emissions. An expected shortage of bitumen in the near future further underlines the need for a sustainable alternative.
Food & Biobased Research scientist Richard Gosselink believes it is possible to develop a viable alternative made entirely from biomass. “The fossil components in roofing can all be replaced by biobased alternatives. The major technical obstacle is that biomass components are less waterproof and more reactive than bitumen. Our research is aimed at finding ways to resolve this issue.”
Biobased Performance Materials
The DISCOVER project is part of the large-scale research programme Biobased Performance Materials (BPM), aimed at developing high-quality materials based on biomass; materials that are being increasingly applied in practice. The research focuses on two types of materials: polymers produced by plants, and polymers from biobased building blocks produced via biotechnology or chemical catalysis. The BPM programme is partly financed by the Top Sector Chemistry and is led by Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research.