Project BG4US


A) Mock-up version 2.0 of the biobased guardrail (25 meter)
B) Produce a ca. 100 meters of biobased guardrail for a crash-test, incl. evaluation and monitoring leading to a certified demonstration
C) Produce a ca. 375 meters of biobased guardrail for a demonstration at a provincial or highway road in close cooperation with The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure (RWS) and The Province Noord-Brabant.
On the basis of the monitoring of the mock-up, fine tuning of the product and the production process may be needed. On this basis, the business case will be further deepened, including concept business plan of roll-out of the concept through Europe during the proiect. This will be the basis on which the partners (MV, KIEM, RB, NT) are going to start a new enterprise including technology licencing.

The overall technology concept will be first applied and fine-tuned in the BG4US LIFE project and
thereafter it will be transferred into a pilot/prototype applicable technology to function day in day out for years. Before this bio-based guardrail can be placed as a demonstration at a chosen location, it first has to be evaluated by full scale crash tests according to the EN 1317-2 regulations.
In order to build a solid business case which can be implemented all over Europe, it is necessary to show that the assembled guardrail (agro fibre and biopolymer based) can be transferred into valuable products in combination with the gained knowledge about other highway furniture applications and ending up in bio based business.
In the BG4US LIFE project much attention will be paid to the lignocellulose fibre processing to obtain the best fibrous starting material for both making fibre/paper tapes (for pultrusion) as well as for the extrusion granulate production (compounds of agro fibres with Solanyl based biopolymers).


The BG4US LIFE guardrail as a total concept is environmentally friendly produced via an innovative combination of Paper technology, Pultrusion and Extrusion based on bio based polymers( plastics) and natural agro fibres (agro-wood).

“Second-generation bio-plastics”, of which Solanyl is an example, are produced using exclusively renewable resources. In the case of Solanyl, this is either potato starch, a waste side-product of the mainly potato processing industry. Therefore, neither additional crops need to be planted nor price effects on food production are resulting from the introduction of Solanyl.

Millvision produces lignocellulose fibres from Agro Food rest streams like roadside grass, tomato and pepper stems. Besides the fibres prepared, Millvision also prepares pulp from these agro fibre rest streams. These fibres are as good as wood fibres but much cheaper. They can be processed into a composite fibre for biopolymer extrusion processes with good performance. Besides the production of fibres, Millvision produces also paper tapes based on the same agro food rest streams. They produce it on the paper machine 1 with a capacity of over 500 ton/An. The tapes can be used as a unidirectional strength agent in both extrusion and pultrusion processes.

Furthermore, this project supports also EU objectives as mentioned in the:
– 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) – focussed on biodiversity, resource-efficiency leading to human health and well-being
– The European Economic Recovery 26.11.2008 COM(2008) 800 – focussed on reinforcement of Europe’s competitiveness having a clean economy with low CO2-emissions leading to future grow and energy efficiency
– The waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) – dealing with basic concepts and definitions related to waste management (how to distinguish between waste and by products)
– The Soil Thematic Strategy (COM(2006)231,22,09,2006) – focussed on the protection of the soil and sustainable use of the soil including increased public awareness
– The EU Water Framework – focussed on cleaner groundwater, combined emission limits of pollution, and getting citizens more aware of water quality


Based on the current knowledge available, a preliminary LCA study was performed. In this study a comparison was made between a zinc galvanized steel guardrail versus the BG4US guardrail. Besides a large reduction in human toxicity (ca. 50%), the climate change human health and climate change Eco systems was improved by ca. 15%. The Ecotoxicity (terrestrial, fresh water, and marine) is improved tremendously, which is mainly due to the reduction of almost all terrestrial ecotoxicity (no more leaching of zinc into the soil when using the BG4US LIFE guardrail).

Furthermore, a reduction in CO2-emission was noticed. The benefits are mainly due to less fossil CO2-emission during the process combined with CO2 uptake by the growth of the plants needed for the BG4US LIFE guardrail. During the growth of the plants, which are needed for the production of the biopolymer and the agro fibres used in the composites, CO2 is transformed into oxygen. A reduction of at least 20-30% was calculated.

This CO2-emission reduction is supported by a simplistic comparison of needed melting energy needed for producing 1 meter of zinc galvanized steel guardrail (weight 59.3 kg) versus 1 meter of BG4US LIFE guardrail (weight 47 kg) using the specific heat capacity of steel (500 Joule/kg.K), PLA (2135 Joule/kg.K) and wood (1880 Joule/kg.K) (being representative for the agro fibres) and the melting temperature of 1500 °C for steel and ca. 200 °C for the composite fibres. Although the specific heat capacities of PLA and wood are higher than for steel, a CO2-emission reduction is calculated due to the fact that the BG4US guardrail components are produced at a lower temperature and its weight/meter is less than the zinc galvanized steel guardrail. This will give a reduction in CO2-emission of ca. 2O%.

It is known that zinc emission via ground water into the soil has a significant influence on the biodiversity on the plants and micro-organisms and invertebrates like i.e. worms in the ground (Source: Chemical properties of zinc – Health effects of zinc – Environmental effects of zinc: On zinc-rich soils only a limited number of plants has a chance of survival; Source: Carrero, J.A. et al, Spectroscopy Europe, Vol 24, No. 5, (2012) pp 11-15) or snail living near by a guardrail (Source: Viard, B. et al, Chemosphere, 55(10), (2004) pp 1349-1359). Zinc can interrupt the activity in soils, as it negatively influences the activity of micro-organisms and earthworms. The breakdown of organic matter may seriously slow down because of this (Source: Chemical properties of zinc – Health effects of zinc – Environmental effects of zinc). Metals can accumulate in both plants and animals leading to an increase in metal concentration in the food chain. Contaminated roadside soils act as secondary pollution sources and may pose a risk to eco systems and human health, as well as to the built heritage if they are transferred to other reservoirs. For instance, these pollutants can be transported to the aerial parts of the vegetation, bio accumulating in them (Source: Carrero, J.A. et al, Spectroscopy Europe, Vol 24, No. 5, (2012) pp 11-15). Replacement of the zinc galvanized guardrail by a bio-based guardrail will reduce the zinc emission which will have a positive effect on the biodiversity of the area where the guardrail is placed. More and new types of plants are expected to grow in these areas (places were the bio-based guardrail is placed). Also less accumulation of zinc concentration is expected.

The BG4US guardrail will be offered as a total concept. Besides replacement of the zinc galvanized steel guardrail by the bio-based guardrail, special types of plants (i.e. special types of nettles) will be seeded near the guardrail that are able to take up heavy metals like zinc to clean the soil that is contaminated by the zinc galvanized steel guardrail (Source: Porebska, G. et al, Polish Journal of
Environmental Studies, Vol 8, No. 6, (7999) pp 433-442).