RoadFix Cork – Innovate in refining

A case study on Galp’s innovative project that joined cork and bitumen to generate an improvement in the refining process.

Background

Galp’s Commitment

At Galp, promoting innovation, research and technological development is a fundamental commitment to the creation of sustainable value and competitive advantages in the medium and long-term.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.

Context

Our strategy

Innovating has become the main engine of growth and value creation for companies. We believe that promoting a culture of innovation – not only at the technology level, but also of process, product, services and business model – contributes to minimising costs and maximising opportunities. In this sense, the diversification of the business portfolio, the development of new products or the strategic partnerships for innovation are at the top of the agenda.

Why is it important to Galp and its Stakeholders

The diffusion and stimulus to innovation within our Company and its surroundings aims to create an environment conducive to identifying opportunities and generating new ideas. The topic of innovation, research and development has an impact on all internal and external stakeholders. Researching innovative solutions engages employees and creates teams of excellence. Moreover, it promotes and strengthens the relations with strategic partners.

The expansion of our portfolio of products with a differentiated offer further benefits the client, promotes our competitiveness and creates value for the shareholder. The positive impacts of innovation will, simultaneously and naturally, contribute to the well-being of society.

Description

The project

The RoadFix Cork project came about from the idea of joining cork with bitumen, in an open innovation initiative called “Innovate in Refining”. 

Created by the Matosinhos Refinery, this innovative solution for the treatment of cracks and expansion joints was developed in collaboration with Amorim Cork Composites and Lusafal. The solution resulting from the joining of cork with bitumen benefits from the properties of these materials, producing a sealant with the added characteristics of being more effective and durable. Cork increases the chemical resistance of the final product in contact with existing agents, in addition to prolonging the lifespan of the product, increasing the resistance to aging.

Cork also has a great capacity of adaption to variations of temperature and pressure, in different climatic conditions, which allows absorbing shocks and returning to the original shape. The new product was presented in April 2016 at Galp’s stand in the Portuguese Road Congress.

Results achieved

The addition of cork to mastic produced an innovative sealant solution, the RoadFix Cork.

By its composition, the new product:

  • has an increased resistance of the sealant when in contact with chemical agents, very often present in the highway;
  • Waterproofs expansion and contraction joints, maintaining the integrity of the pavement for longer.

This resistance to humidity allows it to perform its function without degrading, prolonging the lifespan of the product.

In addition, RoadFix Cork adapts to temperature and pressure variations under different climatic conditions, facilitating compression and decompression, absorbing shocks and returning to the original shape.

 

The creation of RoadFix Cork has added a new solution to the range of Galp sealants. The range is now made up of the standard version – RoadFix Standard – with a high level performance in cracks and joints, and the RoadFix Cork version, which has significant advantages, namely in terms of its durability and the preservation of the pavement’s waterproofing.

Conclusions

The research and incorporation of new natural raw materials enables the development of new products as well as the involvement of other sectors in the value chain. Networking and the creation of collaborative relationships and partnerships with different entities from distinct sectors were also facilitators in identifying opportunities, generating ideas, and conceiving new solutions.

Innovative projects have positive impacts on the different stakeholders:

  • Innovative projects teams are motivated and committed to success;
  • Partnership relations are strengthened, with increased benefits for the parties involved;
  • More efficient solutions are created for customers;
  • The generation of value for stakeholders is enhanced.

In the case of the use of cork, there is also a positive impact on the natural capital. The use of this product contributes to maintaining the cork oak forest, one of the richest ecosystems in Europe in terms of biodiversity, which is estimated to absorb about 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 annually in Portugal alone. It is important to remember that this is one of the main gases causing the greenhouse effect and consequent global warming.

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