Shell Bitumen’s European Technical Centre – 10 years of successfully supporting European construction companies
Jan 21, 2022
Inaugurated in Illkirch, the Strasbourg metropolitan area of Eastern France, Shell’s European Solutions Centre celebrated 10 years of operation.
The European Solutions Centre (EUSC) was designed to meet two main objectives: to develop and extend Shell’s bitumen portfolio for the European and African market, and to provide technical support to our customers and partners through the development of bespoke solutions to meet the specific requirements of their projects. In addition, 5 years ago the centre became the global centre of excellence for analytical chemistry, adding another core activity to its portfolio.
For 10 years now, the EUSC has had outstanding success delivering on these objectives and proactively engaging with our customers to help them deliver increasingly challenging road projects.
We are proud to collaborate with an average of 150 clients in Europe and Africa every year and work on up to 240 technical projects annually.
From bitumen to asphalt, world-class technical expertise and state-of-the-art equipment
The European Solutions Centre’s activity is split into 3 focus areas: an analytical section dedicated mostly to product stewardship testing, a bitumen section whose mission is to develop bitumen solutions adapted to customer needs and an asphalt section, working mostly on bespoke asphalt formulations.
The centre has all the necessary equipment to assess and develop high quality binders which respond to the requirements of the relevant European standards.
“A strength of our solution centre is the availability of all the necessary equipment to conduct a variety of tests according to different national standards: British, German, French, Dutch, or African” explains Fabian Thumberger, EUSC Manager.
To address our customers’ growing interest but also to respond to internal initiatives, the European Solutions Centre focuses increasingly on complex analyses with regards to bitumen flow behaviour (Rheology). Thanks to this expertise and to the internal network and experience of our technicians and engineers, the Shell European Solutions Centre can assess rheological behaviour and adapt formulations accordingly. The binders developed in the lab are designed to meet increasingly challenging requirements under the impact of factors such as changes in climatic conditions and the ever increasing traffic loading that pavements are experiencing.
The European Solutions Centre also acts as a bridge between the Bitumen Research and Development Centre in Bangalore, India, where Shell’s R&D is concentrated, and the application of the Technologies that are developed to the specificity of European and African countries.
“Thanks to Shell’s international network of technical centres, we benefit from the knowledge sharing between our R&D Centre in India and the Solutions Centres around the world. By leveraging our expertise and contacts with the other Solution Centres in China and Thailand, we are able to support complex technical projects not only in Europe but in in Africa and the United States as well,” explains Fabian Thumberger, EUSC Manager.
Some of our flagship projects from the past 10 years
During these first 10 years of operation, the European Technical Centre has developed real expertise working on a complex range of technical projects, from airports to racetracks and tunnels.
- The European Solutions Centre has significantly contributed to the reformulation of PMB (polymer modified bitumen) for the racetracks of Silverstone in the United Kingdom, Circuit Paul Ricard in France, Zandvoort in the Netherlands and Zolder in Belgium, meeting the very tight technical specifications required for a top-performance asphalt.
- The lab has designed “Industry reference binders” for application on bridge decks or traffic-intensive motorways in Germany. Leading external experts gave clear recommendation to use the designed Shell Cariphalte grades for highly stressed surfaces paved with Gussasphalt (especially bridge decks) and for heavily trafficked rolled asphalt surfaces.
- The lab has developed a method to evaluate the effectiveness of low-temperature additives using the DSR Rheometer. This method generated international attention and technical papers were successfully presented to industry experts.
- The European Solutions Centre is increasingly called upon to support its customers in developing more sustainable road construction concepts. Sustainable formulations should maximize the amount of RAP (recycled asphalt pavement) used and successfully apply asphalt at lower temperatures.
“This is an important area of work that we see gaining momentum across Europe, and we are proud to be able to support our customers in their efforts to reach their circular economy goals and in building more sustainable roads.” Fabian Thumberger, EUSC Manager
A sustainable goal
Certified ISO 9001 since 2013 and recertified in 2020, the European Solutions Centre applies the principles of continuous improvement to conduct operations in an ever more sustainable manner. Shell announced earlier this year its target of becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. The European Solutions Centre subsequently aligned its strategy to reflect that of the Group. Several actions have already been implemented, such as optimising and reducing the incoming bitumen/asphalt quantity, recycling the waste bituminous material after testing, reducing electricity consumption by using LEDs and using 100% renewable energy.
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