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Hot Mix Recycling of Asphalt Pavements Pavements It’s Long Overdue in India!
Prof. Prithvi Singh Kandhal,
Associate Director Emeritus, National Center for Asphalt Technology Auburn University, Alabama USA.
Recycling of existing asphalt pavement materials to produce new pavement materials results in considerable savings of material, money, and energy. The specific benefits of recycling can be summarized as follows: (a) substantial savings over the use of new materials, (b) conservation of natural resources, (c) performance equal or even better than new materials, (d) pavement geometrics is maintained, and (e) saving of considerable amount of energy compared to conventional construction techniques. The last benefit is very important due to the recent urgent need for reducing greenhouse gases that is, reducing carbon footprint thereby earning carbon credits for India. Over the years, recycling has become one of the most attractive pavement rehabilitation alternatives in developed countries. Unfortunately, asphalt pavement recycling is yet to take off in India despite the current ambitious road building programme underway. The Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association define five different types of recycling methods: (1) Cold Planing; (2) Hot Recycling; (3) Hot In Place Recycling; (4) Cold
In-Place Recycling; and (5) Full Depth Reclamation. Only hot recycling of asphalt pavements at a central plant will be discussed in this article in the context of 4-laning and 6-laning of India’s state highways and national highways wherein road paving bitumen worth crores of rupees is being buried rather than recycled. The cost of bitumen is about the same as sugar that is: `30-35 per kg. Will we bury sugar under our highways? The “burial” of bitumen which is our country’s “dharohar” (property) is being done indiscriminately on some of our highways, which are being six-laned from the existing four lanes. Existing four lanes of bituminous pavement get buried while constructing vehicle under passes, public under passes, and flyovers. In such cases, the existing bituminous pavement usually consisting of dense bituminous macadam (DBM) and bituminous concrete (BC) can be milled off and the reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) transported to hot mix plant for recycling on service roads and/or main line. Asphalt pavement is 100% recyclable. Here is an example. An existing four-lane national highway with a total length of 120 km is to be
made a six-laned highway. Due to construction of under passes and flyovers a total of about 30 km of the existing four lanes of bituminous pavement will get buried if not reclaimed and recycled. The total tonnage of bitumen, which will be buried, is estimated to be about 7,000 tons which has a value of more than 22 crore rupees. The total tonnage of aggregate in the bituminous pavement, which will also get buried, is estimated to be about 165,000 tons which has a value of over 6 crore rupees. So we will have a gross savings of over 28 crore rupees. The estimated cost of cold milling and transport of RAP to hot mix plant for recycling is about 8 crores. Therefore, a net savings of rupees 20 crores can be realized on this six-laning project if hot mix recycling is implemented by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). There are many projects of this nature which can save us hundreds of crores. The one-time cost of modifying an existing asphalt batch plant to do hot mix recycling in India is only 20 lakhs rupees. Besides huge savings in cost and earning carbon credits, we will also have to obtain less virgin aggregate from our stone quarries
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and also will have to import less crude oil to produce the paving bitumen. In some states such as Punjab and Haryana where stone quarries are prohibited, aggregate is transported from the neighboring states covering over 150 km that makes the aggregate very expensive.
Common Arguments Against Recycling of Asphalt Pavements
The following arguments are commonly encountered as to why NHAI should not mandate hot recycling of asphalt pavements. The writer’s response is given in parenthesis. 1. It is a new technology that we cannot implement as we do not have the relevant experience. [Hot recycling of asphalt pavements has become a standard, proven practice in many countries of the world in the last 30 years. It is not a US technology but global and not a “rocket science.” We can implement it right away on major NH projects without any experience or experimental field trials just like NHAI has commendably implemented the use of robust stone matrix asphalt (SMA) mix recently on national highways without any problem.] 2. Recycled hot asphalt mix may be inferior in performance to 100% virgin asphalt mix. [Numerous field studies in the developed countries have shown time and again that the performance of hot recycled asphalt mix is equal to or better than 100% virgin mix. This is because the specification requirements are generally the same for both.] 3. We are already recycling the milled RAP in the granular sub base (GSB) and/or wet mix macadam (WMM) on some national highway projects. [Use of RAP in GSB or WMM cannot be called recycling; it is still a wasteful
burial. Moreover, inclusion of discrete particles of RAP in GSB is detrimental to its function as drainage layer in the pavement. Inclusion of discrete sub rounded particles of RAP in WMM interferes with the interlocking characteristic of the WMM. Besides, the cost of bitumen is hardly realized from this burial.] 4. We do not have an Indian Roads Congress (IRC) specification for hot asphalt recycling. [As a member of the IRC Flexible Pavement Committee, last year the writer had submitted two draft specifications to IRC for adoption to facilitate hot recycling. One specification is for cold milling and the other for hot mix recycling. NHAI can use these two draft standards immediately without waiting for IRC’s final approval because time is of essence. These two draft standards can be downloaded at the following link: h t t p : / / w w w. s c r i b d . c o m / d o c / 77469016/Open-Letter-to-theChairman-of-the-NHAI-About-HotRecycling-18-November-2011 5. NHAI engineers, contractors, and consultants are not trained in hot mix recycling. [The writer had the privilege of developing detailed, easy to understand, guidelines for recycling asphalt pavements; the project was funded by the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This manual was used by the writer and his associate Dr. Rajib Mallick to conduct field workshops throughout the US to train highway engineers of state and local governments, contractors, and consultants. Twelve workshops were conducted in different parts of the US to train engineers from all 50 states. This comprehensive manual addresses all issues related to recycling such as construction methods & equipment; materials & mix design; and case histories and
QC/QA (quality control/quality assurance). This manual can be downloaded free at the following internet link: h t t p : / / w w w. s c r i b d . c o m / d o c / 47299513/Pavement-RecyclingGuidelines-for-State-and-LocalGovernments-Federal-HighwayAdministration-Publication-NoFHWA-SA-98-042-December-1997 However, training of NHAI engineers, contractors, and consultants in hot mix recycling is still needed. The writer is currently based in Jaipur and can assist in conducting such training workshops. Hot mix recycling cannot be implemented in India until NHAI mandates its use on all major projects. Such a circular should be issued as soon as possible before the highway fraternity of India is blamed for squandering our country’s “dharohar” by burying it under our national highways. By Just issuing a circular to encourage recycling is not good enough any more. Recycling should also be allowed in existing contracts with immediate effect.
Hot Mix Asphalt Recycling Technology
Two processes which are essential for carrying out recycling of existing asphalt pavements are (a) cold milling of existing road and (b) hot mix recycling at asphalt plant. These are discussed here:
Cold milling is described as an automatic method of removing asphalt pavement to a desired depth and restoration of the surface to a desired grade and slope and free of humps, ruts and other distresses. This method can also be used for the roughening or texturing of a pavement to improve frictional resistance. Cold milling is performed with a self-propelled rotary drum cold milling machine
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produce hot mix asphalt (HMA) mixtures. Both batch and drum type hot mix plants are used to produce recycled mix. The RAP material can be obtained by milling or ripping and crushing operation.
Batch type hot mix plants are quite common in India. Some modifications are required in the batch plant to recycle RAP since attempts to introduce RAP directly with the virgin aggregates result in excessive smoke and material build-up problems in the dryer, hot elevator, screens and hot aggregate bins. The most widely used method for batch plant recycling is the “Maplewood Method.” Figure 2 shows the schematic of this method. The cold pre-screened RAP (95% should pass 50 mm sieve) is stored in a steep-sided bin. RAP is conveyed from this bin directly into the weigh hopper of the batch tower (or to another RAP bin besides hot bins) through an inclined conveyor having automatic plant control. Superheated aggregate is discharged first in the weigh hopper followed by RAP at ambient temperature. Since heat rises, superheated aggregate heats up the RAP. More heat transfer takes place during dry mixing and wet mixing in the pugmill. Figure 3 shows a batch plant with RAP bin and RAP conveyor. Generally, 30% RAP in the recycled mix is considered to be practical limit for this type of recycling technique. Therefore, major modifications to batch plant consist of a separate bin for RAP and an automated conveyor system for taking the RAP from the bin to weigh hopper. If desired a RAP bin can also be in a provided near the hot bins and RAP discharged from
Figure 1: Milling machine loading RAP on truck for transport to hot mix asphalt plant
hour in India, where streets in with the reclaimed asphalt metropolitan areas have reduced pavement (RAP) transferred to curb heights due to repeated trucks for removal from the job site overlays. “Mill and fill” should be a (Figure 1). The rotary drum is fitted common practice in urban India. with tungsten carbide teeth, which can bite through hard rock particles. Hot Mix Asphalt The resulting pavement can be used immediately by regular traffic Recycling at Asphalt and overlaid at some future time or Plant left as a textured surface. Cold milling has become a Hot recycling or hot mix recycling is common practice in developed the process in which reclaimed countries in the so-called “mill and asphalt pavement (RAP) material is fill” method of resurfacing/ combined with new materials rehabilitating asphalt pavements. (asphalt binder and aggregate) to For example, it is quite common in the US to mill off the top 40-mm asphalt wearing course which is exhibiting surface distress such as raveling, cracking and rutting, and then replace (fill) it with a new recycled asphalt wearing course. It is done on interstate (national) highways which are otherwise structurally adequate so that the paved shoulders need not be upgraded in elevation. It is especially useful and necessary for urban streets where overlay after overlay would decrease the height of the roadside curb. This Figure 2: Schematic of hot mix asphalt recycling latter use is the need of the batch plant
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(when recycling about 50% RAP). It then drops through the wall of the drum and meets the RAP in the annular space. Since the outer shell does not rotate, easy access is available to add virgin asphalt binder and/or rejuvenating agents. In this method, the RAP material is not exposed to the hot gases.
Grade of Virgin Bitumen Used in Recycling
Since RAP typically contains hard, aged asphalt binder (bitumen), the grade of virgin asphalt binder to be used in hot mix recycling depends upon the amount of RAP in the recycled mix. A study completed by Kandhal and Foo indicated that the evaluation of recycled mixture should be based on a three-tier process. Tier 1 included up to 20% RAP and would not require any change in the grade of standard bitumen. Tier 2 included from 21 to 30% RAP and required that the new bitumen grade should be softer by one grade. Tier 3 included more than 30% RAP and required that the bitumen be recovered from the RAP and blended with the proposed virgin soft bitumen to produce blended bitumen with the desired properties of standard bitumen. Current guidelines for Superpave mix design are similar to those
Figure 3: Typical batch plant with RAP bin and RAP conveyor
that bin to the weigh hopper with a chute. These modifications can be done easily to existing HMA batch plants. As mentioned earlier, the estimated one-time cost of such modifications is about `20 lakhs in India.
The center entry method is the most widely used method for hot mix recycling in a drum mix plant. In this method, RAP is introduced with a special drum collar into the downstream of the burner flame to mix with superheated virgin (new) aggregate. The hot virgin aggregate
heats up the RAP by conduction before mixing with virgin bitumen. Generally, 50% RAP material is considered to be the practical limit for this type of recycling technique. A schematic of the center entry method used in a conventional drum plant is shown in Figure 4. A double barrel drum mix plant is ideally suited for hot mix asphalt recycling. A schematic of the double barrel drum is shown in Figure 5. The shell of the drum is used as the shaft of the coater. The virgin aggregate is dried in the inner drum and superheated to 315-340 C
Figure 4: Schematic of hot mix recycling in a drum plant by the central entry method
Figure 5: Schematic of hot mix recycling in a double barrel drum plant
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recommended by Kandhal and Foo. Since viscosity grading was adopted in India in 2006, the above recommendations mean that VG30 can be used when the RAP is 20% or less. If RAP is 21 – 30%, a softer viscosity grade, that is, VG20 should be used. Over 30% RAP, blend of aged and virgin binder should be analyzed. It is quite possible VG-10 may have to be used. High RAP mixes are being developed to further reduce the carbon footprint as well as economize construction. Such mixes have been made possible by separating RAP materials according to size and/or new designs of drum mix plants. Warm mix asphalt (WMA) technologies also offer potential for using high RAP contents.
structural improvement, equal or better performance compared to conventional HMA, and capability to correct most surface defects, deformation, and cracking.
board, Transportation Record 2051, 2008.
About The Author
Prof. Prithvi Singh Kandhal is
♦ Kandhal, Prithvi S. and Rajib B. Mallick. Pavement Recycling Guidelines for State and Local Governments. Federal Highway Administration Publication No. FHWA-SA-98-042, December 1997. ♦ Kandhal, P.S. Open Letter to Chairman, National Highway Authority of India on Hot Mix Recycling, 18 November 2011. http://www.scribd.com/doc/ 77469016/Open-Letter-to-theChairman-of-the-NHAI-About-HotRecycling-18-November-2011 ♦ Newcomb, D.E., E.R. Brown, and J.A. Epps. Designing HMA Mixtures with High RAP Content – A Practical Guide. National Asphalt Pavement Association, Quality Improvement Series 124, March 2007. ♦ Kandhal, P.S., S.S. Rao and B. Young. Performance of Recycled Mixtures in State of Georgia. Federal Highway Administration Report No. FHWA-GA94-9209, 1994. ♦ Kandhal, P.S. Recycling of Asphalt Pavements: An Overview. Proceedings of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, Vol. 66, 1997. ♦ Roberts, F.L., P.S. Kandhal, E.R. Brown, D. Lee and T.W. Kennedy. Hot Mix Asphalt Materials, Mix Design and Construction. HMA Textbook, Second Edition, NAPA Education Foundation, Lanham, MD 1996. ♦ Kandhal, P.S. and K.Y. Foo. Hot Mix Recycling Design Using Superpave Technology. ASTM, Special Technical Publication 1322, 1997. ♦ McDaniel, R. and Anderson R.M. Recommended Use of Reclaimed Asphalt ♦ Pavement in the Superpave Mix Design Method: Technicians Manual. Transportation Research Board. NCHRP Report 452, 2001. ♦ Kandhal, P.S. An Overview of the Viscosity Grading System Adopted in India for Paving Bitumen. Indian Roads Congress, Indian Highways, April 2007. ♦ Mallick, R., P. S. Kandhal, and R. Bradbury. Using Warm Mix Asphalt Technology to Incorporate High Percentage of Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) Material in Asphalt Mixtures. Transportation Research
Hot mix recycling should be implemented in India especially by NHAI ASAP because besides reducing carbon footprint, it has significant economical advantages by reusing very costly asphalt binder (bitumen) and aggregates. If “mill and fill” method is adopted in metropolitan India, hot mix recycling becomes necessary so that surplus RAP is not discarded but recycled back on the road. Hot mix recycling is economically lucrative when existing bituminous pavements get buried while constructing vehicle under passes, public under passes, and flyovers. This is happening on many national highways in India when six-laning of existing four-lane highways is done. In such cases, the existing bituminous pavement usually consisting of Dense Bituminous Macadam (DBM) and Bituminous Concrete (BC), can be milled off and RAP transported to hot mix plant for recycling and reuse on service roads and the main line. Besides cost savings, the advantages of hot mix asphalt recycling include significant
Associate Director Emeritus of the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) based at Auburn University, Alabama, U.S.A. NCAT is the largest asphalt (bitumen) road technology center in the world. Prior to joining NCAT in 1988, Kandhal served as Chief Asphalt Engineer of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for 17 years. He is the first person born outside North America, who has held the following three very prestigious positions in the asphalt technology area: ♦ President, Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (with members from all continents in the world) ♦ Chairman, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Committee on Road Paving Standards (responsible for over 200 highway standards used worldwide) ♦ Chairman, Transportation Research Board Committee on Asphalt Roads, U.S. National Academy of Sciences Prof. Kandhal has published over 120 technical papers and has co-authored the first ever textbook on asphalt road technology, which is used by more than 25 universities in the U.S. He has traveled to various countries in South America, Europe, Middle East, China, Vietnam, Japan, and Australia to provide training and consulting services in asphalt (bitumen) technology.
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