The Infrastructure project of the A16 in Rotterdam suits as a test for nitrogen reduction in the construction industry

The Infrastructure project of the A16 in Rotterdam suits as a test for nitrogen reduction in the construction industry.

The government is supporting a pilot for an emission free construction site

The first fully electric 25 tons excavator of the Netherlands is operating during constructional work of the new A16 highway in Rotterdam. That makes the A16 the first project to utilize the pilot regulation for reducing nitrogen in the construction industry and starts operating with the electrification of materials. During the first half of 2021 more electric materials will follow. These are the first initiatives that have to contribute to the process of becoming a sustainable sector. Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen applauds the initiative of the market players: ‘the first to shoot wins: great work! Fantastic that the A16 project can be executed in this way. When putting out contracts we shall put more weight towards the emission free working methods.

Electric materials working on innovative energy sources

Besides the earlier mentioned excavator, more electric machines will be used for the project during the first half of 2021, for example a 30 tons crawler excavator, a 16 tons mobile excavator, an asphalt saw, and a 20 tons shovel. The machines will be powered by innovative energy sources, like a generator working on formic acid and five hybrid generators with a battery pack and solar panels. Furthermore, there will be an ultra-low sand transhipment because of the method used during the movement.

The construction industry recognizes urgency of sustainability

Stefan van der Voorn, contract manager at Rijkswaterstaat, explains the initiative: ‘the electrification of material is a measurement used to make the industry more sustainable. And this is badly needed considering the climate crisis and nitrogen problems. The electrification of material helps the reduction of nitrogen during the construction of roads.  The A16 in Rotterdam also has high sustainability ambitions during the usage phase. It will become the world’s first energy neutral highway with a tunnel.  So work is being done on several fronts on the sustainable development of infrastructure.

Multiple sustainability initiatives

Innovation is not something you do alone. Sjoerd Gijezen, CSR-manager at consortium “de Groene Boog '': we notice willingness from companies within the building combination and partners to invest in sustainability. Together with them different innovation sessions were organized to move one step further towards an emission free construction site and to utilize the pilot in the correct manner. Within the project of the A16 in Rotterdam we take, besides the electrification of construction material, also other sustainability measurements. Building material and trucks drive on a 100% HVO-fuel. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel is a biodiesel produced from residual flows originating from the food and wood industry. With this an 89% CO² reduction is obtained in comparison with diesel fuel. We create a pedestrian bridge from recycled concrete, tunnel lighting is being optimized and later solar panels generate energy for the utilization of the highway and tunnel. The newest initiative is called “the material passport”. By capturing which materials are used during the project, a opportunity arises to start future reuse.`

About the pilot

In the interest of reducing the nitrogen emissions in the construction industry the government has decided to start a pilot within the industry (25 million euros). With this regulation the government hopes to obtain knowledge and experience with the introduction of zero-emission mobile materials within a broader spectrum of the construction activities, including the soil, road and water construction. Between Rijkswaterstaat and the Minister of infrastructure and water state an agreement has raised that in 2020 a pilot will start to promote a zero-emission mobile materials for the infrastructural project the A16 in Rotterdam.

About the collaboration

The sustainability proposals concerning the electrification emerge from a collaboration between consortium “de Groene Boog ( (BESIX, Dura Vermeer, Van Oord en de TBI-companies Croonwolter&dros en Mobilis) and partners ABX zaagmij, Anker Grondverzet, Ploegam, Voorbij Funderingstechniek, UMS and DENS. Sjoerd Gijezen states: “Great to see how during the sessions of this project the involved partners were very open about their ambitions and developments concerning electrification." " Eventually, this resulted in cross pollination which is really important for the sector.” The proposals were tested by the independent agency CE Delft in collaboration with sustainability consultants from Rijkswaterstaat.

The A16 in Rotterdam, a good accessibility of Rotterdam, Lansingerland and the surrounding region is important for a strong economy and a well liveability. The A16 in Rotterdam contributes to that. The new, 11 kilometers long and energy neutral highway with a tunnel connects the A16 with the A13 in Rotterdam (near  the “Terbregseplein”).

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