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CABUNDOCAN, Clarence L.

CE152P/C3

What is Asphalt?

Asphalt is a mixture of aggregates, binder and filler, used for constructing


and maintaining all kind of roads, parking areas but also play- and sport areas.
Aggregates used for asphalt mixtures could be crushed rock, sand, gravel or slags.
In order to bind the aggregates into a cohesive mixture a binder is used. Most
commonly, bitumen is used as a binder. An average asphalt pavement consists of
the road structure above the formation level which includes unbound and
bituminous-bound materials. This gives the pavement the ability to distribute the
loads of the traffic before it arrives at the formation level. Normally, pavements are
made of different layers:

How is asphalt produced?

Asphalt is produced in an asphalt plant. This can be a fixed plant or even in a


mobile mixing plant. It is possible to produce in an asphalt plant up to 800 tons per
hour. The average production temperature of hot mix asphalt is between 150 and
180°C, but nowadays new techniques are available to produce asphalt at lower
temperatures.

Different Kinds of Asphalt

To be able to provide the best performance to different applications, a large variety


of asphalt mixes can be used. Due to the different requirements (amount of traffic,
amount of heavy vehicles, temperature, weather conditions, noise reduction
requirements, etc.) the respective mix used needs to have an sufficient stiffness
and resistance to deformation in order to cope with the applied pressure from
vehicle wheels on the one hand, yet on the other hand, they need to have an
adequate flexural strength to resist cracking caused by the varying pressures
exerted on them. Moreover, good workability during application is essential in order
to ensure that they can be fully compacted to achieve optimum durability.

Asphalt mixtures can be produced at different temperatures


Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)
Hot asphalt mixes are generally produced at a temperature between 150 and 180
°C. Depending on the usage, a different asphalt mixture can be used. For more
details of the different asphalt mixtures, go to “Asphalt products”
Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA)
A typical WMA is produced at a temperature around 20 - 40 °C lower than an
equivalent Hot Mix Asphalt. Less energy is involved and, during the paving
operations, the temperature in the mix is lower, resulting in improved working
conditions for the crew and an earlier opening of the road.
Cold Mix Asphalt
Cold mixes are produced without heating the aggregate. This is only possible, due
to the use of a specific bitumen emulsion which breaks either during compaction or
during mixing. After breaking, the emulsion coats the aggregate and over time,
increases its strengths. Cold mixes are particularly recommendable for lightly
trafficked roads.

DIFFERENT ASPHALT LAYERS


An asphalt pavement consists of different asphalt layers.
In general the asphalt layers are paved on a bound or unbound road base layer.
Starting at the road surface, the first layer is called the surface course. The second
layer is mostly called the binder course. The lower layers are the base courses.
Surface course
The surface course constitutes the top layer of the pavement and should be able to
withstand high traffic- and environmentally-induced stresses without exhibiting
unsatisfactory cracking and rutting, in order to provide an even profile for the
comfort of the user and at the same time possess a texture ensuring adequate skid
resistance. Depending on local conditions, functional characteristics such as skid
resistance, noise reduction and durability are often required for wearing courses. In
some cases, rapid drainage of surface water is desired while in other cases, the
wearing course should be impermeable in order to keep water out of the pavement
structure. A wide range of surface layer products can be used depending on specific
requirements. Surface layers types are:

 Asphalt Concrete (AC)


 Béton Bitumineux Mince (Thin Layer Asphalt Concrete – AC-TL)
 Asphalt Concrete Very Thin Layers (AC-VTL)
 Asphalt Concrete Ultra Thin Layer (AC-UTL)
 Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA)
 Hot Rolled Asphalt (HRA)
 Porous Asphalt (PA)
 Double layered Porous Asphalt (2L PA)
 Mastic Asphalt (MA)
 Soft Asphalt (SA)

Double layered porous asphalt


The choice of the surface course depends on the functional requirements of the
road surface. This could be a high durability, noise reduction, splash- and spray
reduction, a high skid resistance, impermeability, etc.

Surface texture of porous asphalt (left) compared to Asphalt Concrete (right).


Binder course
Binder courses are designed to withstand the highest shear stresses that occur
about 50 – 70 mm below the asphalt surface. The binder course is therefore placed
between the surface course and base course to reduce rutting by combining
qualities of stability and durability. Stability can be achieved by sufficient stone-on-
stone contact and stiff and/or modified binders.
Base course
The base course is perhaps the most important structural layer of the pavement,
which is intended to effectively distribute traffic and environmental loading in such
a way that underlying unbound layers are not exposed to excessive stresses and
strains. This often implies comparatively high stiffness of the base course. Next to
this the base course should also show adequate fatigue resistance.
Unbound materials and foundation
Since the formation and sub-soil often constitute relatively weak materials, it is of
utmost importance that the damaging loadings are effectively eliminated by the
layers above. In this case, unbound road-base or sub-base layers consisting of
uncrushed or crushed aggregate can be suitable.

DID YOU KNOW THAT..


...asphalt is sometimes referred to as a flexible pavement. This is due to its ability
to largely resist the stress imposed by slight settlements of the subgrade without
cracking.
...asphalt is the predominant material used for road construction and maintaining
the road network in Europe?
...25% of the total world asphalt production takes place in Europe?
...the average amount of bitumen used in asphalt is 5% by weight?
...Europe has over 2.500 asphalt production sides and over 9.500 companies are
involved in the asphalt production and / or laying?
… some people still talk about tarmac of tarring a road. Since the 1990's tar is not
used anymore in road building.
… tar is totally different from bitumen. They are both black, but tar comes from
coal and bitumen from heavy crude oil.
...Europe has over 2.500 asphalt production sides and over 9.500 companies are
involved in the asphalt production and / or laying?… some people still talk about
tarmac of tarring a road. Since the 1990's tar is not used anymore in road building.
… tar is totally different from bitumen. They are both black, but tar comes from
coal and bitumen from heavy crude oil.

Reference

http://www.eapa.org/promo.php?c=173