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RAPisKeytoReducingtheCostofPavementConstruction fromtheOregonAsphaltPavementAssociation,July,2012

Useofrecycledasphaltpavement(RAP)asamixcomponentfirstbecamepopularin the1980s,saidDr.RayBrown,directoremeritusoftheNationalCenterforAsphalt Technology(NCAT)atAuburnUniversity.HighpercentagesofRAPcontentwere introducedinitially,andtherewereissuesbecauseofit,souseofmixeswithhighRAP contentdropped.Nowwehavebetterdataandthetechnologytodevelopmixesthat willperformwellwithhigherRAPcontent,hesaid. WhiletherearesomeinherentrisksinpushingforhigherpercentagesofRAPcontent, theconsequencesofnotdoingsowillbefargreater. Thecosttoproduceasphaltfluctuateswiththepriceofoil,saidAPAOExecutive DirectorJimHuddleston.Soasthecostofoilincreases,wecanexpectthecostof asphalttoriseaswell.ImplementinghigherpercentagesofRAPcontentcankeepthe costdownandstillprovideahighqualityproduct,heexplained. WehaveonlyscratchedthesurfaceintermsofmaximizingRAPusage,Huddleston said.Therearehugegainstoberealizedinimprovedperformanceandcostsavings, bothofwhichwillhelpusmeetfuturedemandforcosteffectivepavements,headded. HuddlestonestimatesthenationalaverageforRAPcontenttobearound15percent. TheaverageinOregonisroughly20percentormore,butHuddlestonwouldliketosee targetsinthe4050percentrange.Brownconcurs.Tohitthosenumbers,however, bothagreethatagenciesandcontractorsmusthavetheabilitytomeasureandcontrol thequalityofthemixduringconstruction. Engineersarealreadyatworktoaddressthatissue.NCATrecentlycompleteda performancestudyofhighRAPcontentmixesattheNCATTestTrackatAuburn University,andBrownpresentedsomeofthefindingsatthe18thAnnualConferenceof theAsphaltPavementAssociationofOregon. CostAdvantage Brownsresearchestimatesthatasmuchas70percentofthecostofhotmixasphalt liesinthematerials.Therequirementsforvirginaggregateandasphaltareboth reducedwhenRAPisadded.Itisconceivabletosaveupto50percentonbinderand50 percentonaggregatewhenRAPcontentisfullyleveraged. TechnicalSpecifications OneofthechallengeshinderingmoreextensiveuseofRAPisthedifficultyinpredicting finalpropertiesofablendedmix.Physicalpropertiesofvirginmaterialsarerelatively easytoquantify,butaccuratelymeasuringthepropertiesofrecycledasphaltpavement andpredictinghowitwillblendwithnewmaterialismoredifficult.

ChrisBellofOregonStateUniversityisattemptingtochangethat.Bellwillundertakea studyinJulyfortheOregonDepartmentofTransportationwiththegoaltoestablish guidelinesforRAPandbinderselectionthatwilloptimizetheperformanceofthefinal mixtureandallowformorefullyleverageduseofRAPcomponents. UntilwecanmoreaccuratelypredictpropertiesandperformanceofextensiveRAP contentmixes,however,therearesomebestpracticesthatwillcontributetomore positiveoutcomeswhenusinghighRAPcontent.FollowingthestudyattheNCATTest Track,Brownrecommendsthefollowing: Controlorlimittheamountofdustinthemix.RAPnormallyhashighdustcontent,so increasingRAPcontentwillrequireadditionalstepstoensuretheamountofdustinthe recycledmixisnottoohigh.Ifdustcontentistoohigh,themixwillbebrittleand susceptibletocracking. Controlthepropertiesofthecombinedbinder.Ifitistoostiff,crackingwillresult. BrownsuggestsrecoveringandtestingtheRAPbindertodeterminehowitwillimpact thefinalblendathighblendpercentages.HighpercentagesofRAPnormallyrequire blendingwithasoftervirginbinder. ForRAPcontentofupto20percent,manyexpertssuggestusingthesamebindergrade youwoulduseifRAPwasnotpresent.ForRAPcontentof20to30percent,they recommendusingabinderthatisonegradesofter. Placeandcompactthemixproperly,understandingthatRAPmixesmaybestifferand moredifficulttocompact.HighRAPmixesmayrequirehighertemperaturesandmore compactiveeffortinordertoachievedensitytargets.BrownnotesthatmixingRAPwith warmmixasphaltcancreateasoftermixthatismoreworkable.Somestatespermit higherpercentagesofRAPinwarmmixesbecauseofimprovedworkability,andthefact thatthelowerheatoftheproductionprocessdoesnotagethebinderasmuchasit wouldinahotmixenvironment.Youmustmakesure,however,thattheoldandnew binderswillblendadequatelyatlowertemperatures,andidentifythetemperaturebasis foroptimumblending. OtherChallenges WhilehighRAPpavementtendstobemorerutresistant,amixthatistoobrittlecan producepavementsthatcrackorravel.Thequestion(again)isidentifyingtheproperties ofnewcomponentsthatwillbestcomplementthepropertiesoftheRAP,andleveraging theminawaythatwillmaximizetheamountofRAPthatcanbeused. SomeareconcernedthattheasphaltinRAPbecauseitisageddoesntblendwell. Othersclaimitblendsfully,andthetruthliessomewherebetweenthetwo.Thereare other(confirmed)productionchallengeswithhighRAPcontentpavementrelatedto increasedmoistureandfinesintheRAPmaterial.

Thevariablesnotedaboveleadsomeagenciestobelievetheywillhavelesscontrolover thefinishedproduct.Thetruthisthatwithadditionaldataandprecisedesignmethods, higherRAPcontentmixescanbeconstructedwithverypredictableresults. PerformanceattheTestTrack BrowndiscussedperformanceofsevensectionsattheNCATTestTrackthatwerepaved with20,45or50percentRAP.Allbutonesectionexhibitedoutstandingperformance. Theonesectionthatproducedsignificantcrackingcontained45percentRAPanda modifiedasphaltbinderthatproducedthestiffestasphaltamongthoseusedforthe trial.Othersectionswith45percentRAPandevena50percentRAPsection providedexcellentperformance. InSummary AgenciesandcontractorsmustidentifyopportunitiestousehigherlevelsofRAPintheir constructionprojects,otherwiseprojectswillbecomecostprohibitiveontheagency side,andforthecontractor,bidswillnotbecompetitive.Asmoredatabecomes available,agenciesandcontractorswillbeabletofurtherincreasetheiruseofRAPwith predictableresultsandmaximumcostsavings. Weneedtomovetoward40to50percentRAPcontent,Brownsaid.Thereis potentialtogohigher,butitwillfirstrequirethatwehavealotofexperienceusing40 50percentRAP,headded.