Shell Bitumen’s industry firsts

Our first patent

Shell Haven Refinery, Essex
Shell Haven Refinery, Essex

1923

In 1923 we patented Shell Bitumen, and since then we've added more patents to our brand every decade. Here's a look at some of our innovations over the years... 

The Shell Bitumen Handbook

Shell Bitumen handbook from Shell Historical Heritage & Archive
Shell Bitumen handbook from Shell Historical Heritage & Archive

1949

1949 saw the inaugural launch of our handbook which explores the latest technical trends within the industry. It’s now a leading industry publication and into its 6th edition. 

Nomograph invented

Prince Bernhard admiring the Asphalt department’s 2-tonne vibrating machine
Prince Bernhard admiring the Asphalt department’s 2-tonne vibrating machine

1954

In the mid 1950s, C Van der Poel, a researcher at the Shell Laboratory in Amsterdam developed a nomograph that could be used to estimate the stiffness of bitumen. 

A splash of colour

Coloured bitumen in everyday road use
Coloured bitumen in everyday road use

1967

This year saw the development of the world’s first synthetic binder, Colouradd, which was developed from Mexphalte C©. This new binder enabled the first durable, coloured tarmacs to be laid, paving the way for the special road markings and cycle paths we now take for granted.

Hello ShellGrip

Car driving down winding road
Car driving down winding road

1970

ShellGrip© is a high-friction surfacing often used on the approach to roundabouts or hairpin bends. 

Multi-grade binders

Laboratory technician at the Peace River Project
Laboratory technician at the Peace River Project

1984

In the mid-eighties we developed our first multi-grade binder called Multiphalte©. Multiphalte is formulated to greatly enhance the rutting resistance of asphalt whilst maintaining its flexibility and the fatigue characteristics of the mixture.

Welcome Tixophalte

Shell Laboratorium Amsterdam, KSLA
Shell Laboratorium Amsterdam, KSLA

1988

Shell Tixophalte© is a sealant and was a game changer as it’s such a versatile product. It’s now used on everything from large-scale industrial dams to DIY projects, and even works when applied underwater.

Eliminating odours

Traffic on long stretch of highway cutting through scenic landscape
Traffic on long stretch of highway cutting through scenic landscape

2007

In 2007 we pioneered Shell Bitufresh©, our first ever odour-eliminating binder solution, and the first step in our continuing efforts to reduce the nuisance odours that go hand in hand with bitumen production and installation.

Air quality

Road heading into a city landscape
Road heading into a city landscape

2018

In 2018, we were the first major supplier of bitumen to develop a solution that addresses impact on local air quality. Using Shell Bitumen FreshAir© reduced the emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2),nitrogen oxides (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and particulate matter (PM) by an average of 40% during asphalt production and road paving when compared to conventional bitumen.

Impact through innovation

An illuminated tunnel entrance paved with light coloured Bitumen

Let there be light

In Luxembourg, we worked on a road-tunnel project that helped save energy costs by using our Mexphalte C© LT binder to reflect more light from the road surface, so that less lighting was needed. The low temperature nature of the binder also reduced emissions during the installation which helped to improve working conditions.

A racetrack corner in a snow-covered mountainous landscape

It’s oh so quiet

In Germany we achieved a 5-decibel noise reduction by surfacing with our open pore asphalt (Cariphalte© OPA). OPA is characterised by having interconnected voids in the surface layer. This dampens the sound of vehicles and prevents ‘hissing’ on the road surface, since the air in the tyre tread is distributed via the interconnected voids. 

Keeping the world dry for 70 years

Flintkote

Rooftops in suburban development
Rooftops in suburban development

From kitchens and bathrooms to roofs and bridges, Shell Flintkote© solutions have been advancing waterproofing since the 1950s. Wherever they’re used, the adhesion and flexibility of these bitumen-based products ensure they keep water at bay while coping with everything from harsh conditions to structural movement.

HKZM Bridge

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Hong Kong
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Hong Kong

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, China

To protect the deck of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea crossing bridge, we applied Shell Flintkote© Bridge Coat, a rubberised bitumen developed for flexibility and toughness even under heavy traffic loads, it also has a self-healing characteristic that ensures long-term waterproofing.

Penang High Court

Penang High Court, Malaysia
Penang High Court, Malaysia

Penang High Court, Malaysia

In Malaysia, we upgraded the 100-year old Penang High Court building using Shell Flintkote© Ultra, a seamless and lap-free waterproofing membrane specially formulated for concrete roof structures. Super durable, it is also certified as an environmentally preferred coating.

Haven Condominium

Haven Condominium, Malaysia
Haven Condominium, Malaysia

Haven Condominium, Malaysia

The Shell Flintkote© range also has innovative products developed for internal wet areas and metal roofs that have been used in major commercial and residential developments, including the Haven Condominium in Malaysia.

Shell Bitumen has four innovation-led sites around the world

Press the marked areas to learn more about each
Shell Bitumen has four innovation-led sites around the world
Detail 1

Bangalore, India

Our research and development centre in Bangalore is a world-leading technology centre bringing together over 1,500 technicians, engineers, chemists and analysts to develop new solutions for the industry.  

Detail 2

Bangkok, Thailand

Transportation is vital to the economy growth in Thailand and within the Asia Pacific region. Our Thailand solutions centre has made strides with products including Para AC and Bitumen FreshAir, and played a pivotal role with testing on local roads. 

Detail 3

Zhenjiang, China

In 2019, we relocated our specialist bitumen facility from Shanghai to Zhenjiang.  The Chinese team supports Shell Bitumen’s continued business growth ambitions in China, including testing of new technologies like Shell Bitumen FreshAir.

Detail 4

Strasbourg, France

The European Solutions Centre is well placed on the border of Germany and France as a central hub for our European customers.  It provides an impressive laboratory space for testing and development of solutions. 

Press the marked areas to learn more about each

Shell Bitumen is a breath of fresh air

Find out how one of our recent innovations is helping to reduce our impact on local air quality during production and paving.

Find out more

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS

Shell Bitumen is 100

Join us as we mark our centenary year.

Shell Bitumen is driving progress

We’ve all got a part to play in reducing our environmental impact on the world. Find out how Shell Bitumen is playing our part. 

Shell Bitumen is built to last

From racetracks to runways to roads, our products help keep the world moving. Find out how.  

Shell Bitumen is helping pave the roads of the future

From record-beating bridges to world-class racetracks, take a look at some of the projects that make us proud.