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Road Science opens new electric bitumen tank in South Island - Downer NZ

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Road Science (a subsidiary of Downer New Zealand) has held an official opening event today for a large bitumen tank at the Port of Lyttleton, to bolster onshore storage and enable a secure supply for customers.

The bitumen tank boasts five million litres of storage for the substance that shapes New Zealand’s roads and pavements. It is made from a repurposed oil tank and took 18 months to convert. The decision to repurpose and refurbish an old tank was made in line with best building practice for sustainability, as a new build would increase carbon emissions.

The tank is the first of its size in Australasia to be fully electrified, instead of being process-heated by fossil fuels. Now that the tank is operational, it has been assessed by Energy NZ and the results show significant carbon emissions savings, totalling 290 tonnes per year.

Craig West, Downer New Zealand EGM for Transport says; "Downer New Zealand is committed to finding solutions to decarbonise, and the innovation Road Science has delivered in the construction of our first electric tank is really impressive. They continue to be industry leaders and to find opportunities for us to build a sustainable future. The emissions reduction we have made at the Lyttleton plant provides us with a successful model to work from across our business."

Construction of the tank began in advance of a decision made by Refining New Zealand to halt the production of approximately 100 thousand tonnes of bitumen at the Marsden Point refinery in February 2021.

New Zealand uses 160 thousand tonnes of bitumen per year for surfacing roads including airports, ports, pavement and other roading infrastructure, and businesses are now required to import the product from as far as Europe and the United States.

"The new tank increases onshore storage space significantly for the South Island, building resilience for our business and ensuring supply certainty for the entire roading industry," says General Manager at Road Science, Doug Carrasco.

"We know from experience New Zealand can rely on imported bitumen and we have had this expertise for decades. To make it cost effective we need to import large quantities at a time, and we require onshore storage," says Carrasco.

The new storage facility is an example of Road Science’s commitment to ensuring a strong and sustainable future for the roading industry and all road users.

"We’re constantly refining our investment strategy to ensure we’re growing our business, adding value to the industry, and delivering world-class transport solutions. The new bitumen tank is one example of this, and is a significant milestone for the industry," he concludes.

The tank is now in use at Port of Lyttleton in New Zealand’s South Island.

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