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Tack Coat to Chip Seal

Danny Gierhart, P.E. Regional Engineer Asphalt Institute

Why emulsify asphalt?

To liquefy asphalt binders for use at or near ambient temperatures, rather than the 275F or so required for straight binder Lower temperatures reduce energy use, emissions, and burn hazards Change from oil based to water based system Certain emulsions can be used to coat damp aggregate surfaces, reducing fuel requirements for heating and drying Cold emulsions can be used at remote sites

Emulsion Properties Storing, Handling, and Sampling Common Uses of Asphalt Emulsions

What is an asphalt emulsion?

Microscopic asphalt droplets suspended in water. Mostly about 5 m in diameter, ranging from 1-20 m Emulsifiers or surfactants hold these droplets in suspension.

100 micron/0.1mm

Negatively- Charged Emulsions are classified into 3 main types

RS (Rapid Setting) MS (Medium Setting) SS (Slow Setting)

Positively- Charged Emulsions are also classified into 3 main types

CRS (Rapid Setting) CMS (Medium Setting) CSS (Slow Setting)

Additional Nomenclature
QS = Quick Set HF = High Float 1 = Binder residue = 60% Minimum 2 = Binder Residue = 65% Minimum h = Hard Pen Asphalt Base s = Soft Pen Asphalt Base or sometimes Solvent l and/or p = Latex and/or Polymer

Asphalt Emulsifier
Emulsifier Head

Loves Water
Hates Oil Emulsifier Tail

Loves Oil
Hates Water

Emulsifier Orientation at the Asphalt/Water Interface

Opposite charges attract and same charges repel

Surface charge determined by emulsifier type and water pH

Stabilization of Asphalt Droplets

no charge- droplets can come into contact and coalesce

Cationic emulsion-electrostatic repulsion prevents close approach of drops

+ +

Anionic emulsion-electrostatic repulsion prevents close approach of drops

Aggregate Charge







Asphalt Emulsions
Anionic emulsions (negatively charged) typically bond best with positively charged aggregates (limestones). Cationic emulsions (positively charged) typically bond best with negatively charged aggregates (granites, sandstones, basalts).

Un-broken emulsion is brown
Broken emulsion is black

Emulsifier / Emulsion Reactivity








Asphalt Emulsion Storage and Handling

Larger particles settle faster

Denser particles settle faster Low viscosity, Low residue emulsions are liable to settle Settlement is less in hot storage temperature The opposite is called creaming If unchecked settlement can be very hard to re-disperse.

Asphalt Emulsion Storage and Handling

Hard water, pH changes, or contamination can reduce the charge on the droplets When charge is insufficient to keep particles apart then they stick together (flocculation) Flocculation may be reversible or lead to coalescence. High shear can also force particles together

Old Material
Old material from last season will not work well. A small amount of old material will contaminate a load of new material.

Temperature Problems
Dont overheat emulsions (Distributors) Dont allow emulsions to freeze (ever) Dont add cold water to emulsions

Tanker and Distributor Contamination

Dont Mix Hot Asphalts with Emulsions Dont Mix Cationic and Anionic Dont Mix Old and New Dont Mix Emulsions with sealers Dont Mix Emulsions with other chemicals, salts, etc.

Job Site Storage of Emulsions

Try to order so all material is used every day Fresher is better Less exposure to air is better Clean out all storage tanks over the off season

Testing and Sampling

Only good sample from the emulsion storage tank Samples must be handled correctly and tested quickly

AASHTO T 40 - Sampling Containers

Allowable containers:
Anionic Emulsions - wide-mouth plastic or glass jars or bottles. Cationic Emulsions - wide-mouth plastic jars or bottles or wide-mouth cans with screw caps. Containers need to be new, not washed, rinsed, or wiped with an oily cloth.

Major Uses of Asphalt Emulsions

Surface Treatments
Chip Seal Sand Seal Slurry Seal Micro surfacing Cape Seal Fog Seal Scrub Seal Penetration Macadam

Major Uses of Asphalt Emulsions

Asphalt Recycling
Cold In-Place Full Depth Reclamation Hot In-Place

Major Uses of Asphalt Emulsions

Other Applications
Tack Coat Prime Coat Dust Palliative Crack Fill Cold Mix Paving Maintenance Patch

Great asphalt emulsion resources available at: