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An Overview of the Viscosity Grading System Adopted in India for Paving Bitumen

An Overview of the Viscosity Grading System Adopted in India for Paving Bitumen

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Viscosity graded system has recently been adopted in India for paving bitumen based on IS 73:2006 Paving Bitumen – Specification (Third Revision) issued in July 2006. The viscosity grading system replaces a 100-year old penetration grading system. This system specifies paving bitumen by viscosity at 60 C rather than penetration at 25 C.

The paper reviews the history of grading paving bitumen over the last 125 years. The progression of grading systems: grading by chewing, penetration grading, viscosity grading, and Superpave performance grading, has been discussed with their respective advantages and disadvantages.

The paper gives an overview of the newly adopted viscosity grading system to acquaint highway engineers, contractors, suppliers, and consultants with it to make the necessary change over from penetration grades to viscosity grades in practice. The new viscosity graded (VG) bitumen specification has been compared with the old penetration graded bitumen specification. Selection criteria for VG grades based on climate and traffic has been recommended. Recommendations have also been made to implement the VG grades as soon as possible to improve the consistency, quality, and durability of bituminous pavements in India. Information about the viscosity test such as testing equipment, testing procedure, and estimated cost of the equipment has been given.
Viscosity graded system has recently been adopted in India for paving bitumen based on IS 73:2006 Paving Bitumen – Specification (Third Revision) issued in July 2006. The viscosity grading system replaces a 100-year old penetration grading system. This system specifies paving bitumen by viscosity at 60 C rather than penetration at 25 C.

The paper reviews the history of grading paving bitumen over the last 125 years. The progression of grading systems: grading by chewing, penetration grading, viscosity grading, and Superpave performance grading, has been discussed with their respective advantages and disadvantages.

The paper gives an overview of the newly adopted viscosity grading system to acquaint highway engineers, contractors, suppliers, and consultants with it to make the necessary change over from penetration grades to viscosity grades in practice. The new viscosity graded (VG) bitumen specification has been compared with the old penetration graded bitumen specification. Selection criteria for VG grades based on climate and traffic has been recommended. Recommendations have also been made to implement the VG grades as soon as possible to improve the consistency, quality, and durability of bituminous pavements in India. Information about the viscosity test such as testing equipment, testing procedure, and estimated cost of the equipment has been given.

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Published by: Prof. Prithvi Singh Kandhal on Sep 03, 2009
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AN OVERVIEW OF THE VISCOSITY GRADING SYSTEM ADOPTED ININDIA FOR PAVING BITUMEN
ByProf. Prithvi Singh Kandhal*
[This paper was published in the Indian Roads Congress, “Indian Highways”, Volume 35, No. 4, April2007]
ABSTRACT
Viscosity graded system has recently been adopted in India for paving bitumen based onIS 73:2006 Paving Bitumen – Specification (Third Revision) issued in July 2006. Theviscosity grading system replaces a 100-year old penetration grading system. This systemspecifies paving bitumen by viscosity at 60 C rather than penetration at 25 C.The paper reviews the history of grading paving bitumen over the last 125 years. The progression of grading systems: grading by chewing, penetration grading, viscositygrading, and Superpave performance grading, has been discussed with their respectiveadvantages and disadvantages.The paper gives an overview of the newly adopted viscosity grading system to acquainthighway engineers, contractors, suppliers, and consultants with it to make the necessarychange over from penetration grades to viscosity grades in practice. The new viscositygraded (VG) bitumen specification has been compared with the old penetration graded bitumen specification. Selection criteria for VG grades based on climate and traffic has been recommended. Recommendations have also been made to implement the VG gradesas soon as possible to improve the consistency, quality, and durability of bituminous pavements in India. Information about the viscosity test such as testing equipment,testing procedure, and estimated cost of the equipment has been given.
1. INTRODUCTION
India has now adopted a viscosity grading system for paving bitumen. The Bureau of Indian Standards has issued IS 73:2006 Paving Bitumen – Specification (ThirdRevision)
4
in July 2006, which specifies paving bitumen by viscosity at 60 C rather thanthe old system
3
of grading paving bitumen by penetration at 25 C. The Ministry of RoadTransport and Highways (MORTH) is expected to revise its highway specificationsrelated to bituminous materials and pavements soon to reflect this significant change ingrades of paving bitumen. ______________________________________________________________________ *Associate Director Emeritus, US National Center for Asphalt Technology, KaranpuraHouse, 50 Raj Bhawan Road, Civil Lines, Jaipur (Email: pkandhal@eng.auburn.edu
 
)
 
2This paper gives an overview of the newly adopted viscosity grading system to acquainthighway engineers, contractors, suppliers, and consultants with it to make the necessarychange over from penetration grades to viscosity grades in practice.At the present time, we are at a critical point in the history of road building in India.Intense road construction activity is under way in building our national highways (GoldenQuadrilateral, East-West Corridor, and North-South Corridor), state highways, and ruralroads. Most of these highways will be paved with asphalt mixtures of which bitumen isan important and expensive ingredient. It is of paramount importance that we select bitumen which is suited for Indian climate and traffic conditions and whose physical properties are based on rational rather than empirical parameters. This has now beenachieved by adopting the viscosity grading system for selecting paving bitumen in India.Before giving an overview of the new system, it will be prudent to review the history of grading bitumen over the last 125 years. This review will assist us in knowing how far wehave come and where we should be going in the long term so far as grading and selecting bitumen are concerned.
2. HISTORY OF GRADING BITUMEN
Bitumen is a thermoplastic material, that is, its stiffness is dependent on its temperatureas shown in Figure 1. Its stiffness decreases as its temperature is increased. Thistemperature versus stiffness relationship is different for different bitumens based on theorigin of the petroleum crude and/or method of refining. This is quite evident in Figure 1wherein Bitumens A and B have different relationships.Therefore, it is obvious we should define a test temperature at which the grading will bedone and bitumens compared. If we compare Bitumens A and B, Bitumen B is stiffer than Bitumen A at 25 C whereas the situation is reversed at 60 C. Although the stiffnessof bitumen at low temperatures is also important to resist thermal cracking, Figure 1shows three temperatures at which the stiffness of bitumen has significance as follows:
Stiffness at 135 C
: The temperature of 135 C is near the temperatures used for mixingand compacting asphalt mixtures during construction. It is useful to determine thestiffness (measured in terms of kinematic viscosity) of the bitumen to establish proper mixing and compaction temperatures for asphalt mixtures.
Stiffness at 60 C
: The temperature of 60 C is near the maximum bituminous pavementtemperature on a hot summer day, when rutting is likely to occur as shown in Photo 1. Itis useful to determine the stiffness (in terms of viscosity) of the bitumen at 60 C so thatwe can specify its minimum stiffness to ensure adequate resistance to rutting during hotsummer. Rutting of asphalt pavements is the most prevalent problem in the worldincluding India.
 
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Stiffness at 25 C
: The temperature of 25 C is near the average annual temperature of anasphalt pavement during a year. It is useful to determine the stiffness (in terms of  penetration) of the bitumen at 25 C so that we can specify its maximum stiffness(minimum penetration) to resist pavement raveling and/or fatigue cracking (Photo 2)resulting from aged/brittle bitumen after 5-10 years in service. Unlike rutting which mayoccur right after construction, raveling/fatigue cracking usually occurs after 5-10 years inservice, especially if the pavement is structurally inadequate.
25 60 135
       S       T       I       F       F       N       E       S       S
 A BTemperature, °C
 Figure 1. Temperature versus stiffness relationships of different bitumensPhoto 1. Rutting occurs at maximum pavement temperatures during summer 

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