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Binders used in pavement construction are mainly of two types: cement and bitumen. Cement
is the most commonly used cementing agent in the concrete building industry. In road
construction, it is used as a binder for rigid pavement structures and a stabilizing agent.
Bituminous material (or bitumen), also known as asphalt cement in the US, is a viscous liquid
or solid material, black or dark brown in colour, having adhesive properties, consisting
essentially of hydrocarbons which are soluble in carbon disulphate. They are usually fairly
hard at normal temperatures. When heated, they soften and flow. When mixed with
aggregates in their fluid state, and then allowed to cool, they solidify and bind the aggregates
together, forming a pavement surface. They are used on all types of roadway – from multiple
layers of asphalt concrete on the highest class of highways to thin, dust-control layers on
seldom-used roads. Because enough coverage on properties, mix design, and quality control
of cement concrete is normally provided in other civil engineering courses, this chapter
focuses on bituminous binders.

6.1. Types of Bituminous Materials

Bituminous materials are derived from petroleum or occur in natural deposits in different
parts of the world. Based on their sources there are two main categories of bitumens, namely,
those which occur naturally and those which are by-products of the fractional distillation of
petroleum at refinery. Refinery bitumens are by far the greater proportion of road bitumen
used all over the world. Of the possible types falling into these categories, the ones that are
used for highway paving purposes are illustrated in Figure 6- 1.

Bituminous Materials

Natural Bitumen Refinery Bitumen

Penetration grade Liquid bitumen

Lake asphalt Rock asphalt

Cutbacks Emulsions

Slow curing Medium curing Rapid curing Anionic Cationic

cutback cutback cutback emulsion emulsion

Figure 6- 1. Commonly used types of road bitumen

6.1.1. Natural Bitumens

Native or natural Bitumens relate to a wide variety of materials and refer to those bitumens
that are found in nature as native asphalts or rock asphalts associated with appreciable
quantities of mineral matter. Native asphalts are obtained from asphalt lakes in Trinidad and

other Caribbean areas, and were used in some of the earliest pavements in North America
after softening with petroleum fluxes. The properties depend on the insoluble materials
(organic and inorganic) the asphalt contains. Some natural asphalts are soft and adhesive;
others are very hard and brittle. Some exist on the surface of the earth in lakes or pools, while
others occur at depth and must be mined. Rock asphalts are natural rock deposits containing
bituminous materials that have been used for road surfaces in localities where they occur.

6.1.2. Refinery Bitumens

Bitumens artificially produced by the industrial refining of crude petroleum oils are known
under a number of names depending on the refining method used such as residual bitumens,
straight-run bitumens, steam-refined bitumens and  as is now most commonly accepted 
refinery bitumens. Petroleum crudes are complex mixtures of hydrocarbons differing in
molecular weight and consequently in boiling range. Before they can be used, crudes have to
be separated, purified, blended, and sometimes chemically or physically changed. Not all
petroleum crudes contain a sufficient quantity of bitumen to enable straight reduction to
specification road bitumen. Those which do are known as asphaltic-base crudes. Crudes
which contain high proportions of simpler paraffinic compounds, with little or no bituminous
bodies present, are known as paraffinic-base crudes. Some petroleum crudes exhibit
characteristics of both the previous categories, and these are known as mixed-base crudes.

Figure 6- 2. Flow chart of the manufacture of refinery bitumens

The primary processing involved in the production of bitumen from petroleum is fractional
distillation. This is carried out in tall steel towers known as fractionating or distillation
columns as schematically shown in Figure 6.2. The inside of the column is divided at intervals
by horizontal steel trays with holes to allow vapour to rise up the column. In this process, part
of the hydrocarbon materials in the crude oil are vaporized by heating them above their
boiling points under pressure. The lightest fractions of the crude remain as a vapour and are
taken from the top of the distillation column, heavier fractions are taken off the column as
side-streams with the heaviest fractions remaining as a liquid and therefore left at the base of
the column. The lightest fractions produced by the crude distillation process include propane
and butane which are gases under atmospheric conditions. Moving down the column a
slightly heavier product, naphtha, is produced which is a feedstock for gasoline production
and the chemical industry. Then there is kerosine, which is used primarily for aviation fuel
and to a lesser extent for domestic fuel. Heavier again is gas oil, which is used as a fuel for
diesel engines and central heating. The heaviest fraction taken from the crude oil distillation
process is long residue which is a complex mixture of high molecular weight hydrocarbons.
Such refining process is known as straight-run distillation, and the residue is straight-run

To remove high boiling temperature constituents such as those contained in the non-volatile
oils, refining is carried out, without changing them chemically by the use of reduced pressures
and steam injection in the fractionating column. This type of distillation is known as vacuum
or steam distillation, and bitumens produced by such means are said to be vacuum reduced or
steam refined.

On the other hand, when the objective is to primarily to increase the yield of fuels, the
petroleum oil undergoes cracking distillation. In general, cracking process consists in
exposing the petroleum crude to a temperature of 475-600oC at pressure varying from 3 to 75
atmospheres. This process produces heavier residues as a consequence of forming the lighter
materials. These residues are known as "cracked oil" or "cracked asphalt". They are
characterized by relatively high specific gravity, low viscosity, and poor temperature
susceptibility. They are generally regarded as less durable or weather resistant than straight
run materials.

In a few cases, a selective solvent, such as propane, is used to treat the topped crude to
separate paraffinic crude oils of high viscosity index for use in the manufacture of lubricating
oils and special products. This separation method is based on chemical type and molecular
weight rather than by boiling point as in the usual distillation. In the process, the paraffinic
oils are dissolved by the solvent and come afloat in the fractioner vessel. The residual asphalt,
which is relatively insoluble, is drawn off at the bottom.

These residual asphalts produced by the different methods of refining described above are of
various grades asphalt cement, depending upon the degree to which distillates are removed as
determined by the conditions of distillations. They are further processed by air-blowing,
blending, compounding, and admixing with other ingredients to make variety of asphalt
products used in paving, roofing, waterproofing, coating and sealing materials, and materials
for industrial applications.

3 Penetration Grade Bitumens
In the preparation of paving binders, it is common to blend two or more different asphaltic
residues to produce a material possessing desirable physical properties. Additive materials
may also be used to improve properties such as adhesion to solid surfaces and flowing
characteristics. By varying the ingredients and the amounts used, it is possible to exercise
considerable control over the properties of the finished asphalt. The major paving products are
penetration grade bitumens (also known as asphalt cements), cutback asphalts, and asphalt

Penetration grade bitumens or asphalt cements are in consistency from semi-solid to semi-
liquid at room temperature. Such bitumens are graded according their viscosity (mainly used
in the US) and penetration. Penetration is the depth in 0.1 mm that a specified needle is able
to penetrate the samples when standard penetration tests are carried out. They are produced in
various viscosity grades, the most common being AC 2.5, AC 5, AC 10, AC 20, and AC 40.
These roughly correspond to penetration grades 200-300, 120-150, 85-100, 60-70, and 40-50,
respectively. The viscosity grades indicate the viscosity in hundreds of poises ± 20%
measured at 60oC (140oF). For example, AC 2.5 has a viscosity of 250 poises ± 50. AC 40 has
a viscosity of 4000 poises ± 800.

The majority of penetration grade bitumens is used in road construction, the harder grades, 35
pen to 100 pen, being used in asphalt where bitumen stiffness is of primary importance and
the softer grades, 100 pen to 450 pen, in macadams where the lubricating properties during
application and bonding of the aggregate in service are more important. During construction
asphalt cements require to be heated to varying degrees before mixing with hot or warm
aggregates and the mixed material must be laid while hot within a few hours of mixing. Liquid Bitumens

Sometimes it is uneconomical or inconvenient to use hot asphalt in road construction. In such
situations, liquid binders are preferable to handle at relatively low temperatures and mixed
with aggregates either when cold or only warmed sufficiently to make them surface-dry. For
the suitability of such construction methods, asphalt cements are frequently modified by
preparation as liquid products. The two forms of liquid bitumens generally, are those which
are prepared by dissolving the asphalt cement in a suitable volatile solvent and known as
cutback bitumens, and those which are prepared by emulsifying the asphalt cement in an
aqueous medium and called bitumen emulsions.

Cutback Bitumens
Cutback bitunems are prepared by dissolving penetration grade bitumens in suitable volatile
solvents to reduce their viscosity to make them easier to use at ordinary temperatures. They
are commonly heated and then sprayed on aggregates. Upon curing by evaporation of the
solvent, the cured-out asphalt cement will be in approximately the same condition as before
being taken into solution and bind the aggregate particles together. The curing period depends
on the volatility of solvents.

Cutback bitumens are grouped into three types based on the type of solvent, which governs
the rates of evaporation and curing, namely, slow-curing (SC), medium-curing (MC), and
rapid-curing (RC). Each type of cutback bitumen is subdivided into several grades
characterized by their viscosity limits. The viscosity is controlled by the quantity of cutback

solvent to make the various grades from very fluid to almost semi-solid at ambient

Slow-Curing (SC) Cutbacks. Slow-curing asphalts can be obtained directly as slow-curing

straight-run asphalts through the distillation of crude petroleum or as slow-curing cutback
asphalts by "cutting back" asphalt cement with a heavy distillate such as diesel oil. They have
lower viscosities than asphalt cement and are very slow to harden. Slow-curing asphalts are
usually designated as SC-70, SC-250, SC-800, or SC-3000, where the numbers are related to
the approximate kinematic viscosity in centistokes at 60oC (140oF). They are used with dense-
graded aggregates and on soil-aggregate roads in warm climates to avoid dust.

Medium-Curing (MC) Cutbacks. Medium-curing asphalts are produced by fluxing, or cutting

back, the residual asphalt (usually 120-150 penetration) with light fuel oil or kerosene. The
term medium refers to the medium volatility of the kerosene-type dilutent used. Medium-
curing cutback asphalts harden faster than slow-curing liquid asphalts, although the
consistencies of the different grades are similar to those of the slow-curing asphalts. However,
the MC-30 is a unique grade in this series as it is very fluid and has no counterpart in the SC
and RC series.

The fluidity of medium-curing asphalts depends on the amount of solvent in the material.
MC-3000, for example, may have only 20 percent of the solvent by volume, whereas MC-70
may have up to 45 percent. These medium-curing asphalts can be used for the construction of
pavement bases, surfaces, and surface treatments.

Rapid-Curing (RC) Cutbacks. Rapid-curing cutback asphalts are produced by blending

asphalt cement with a petroleum distillate that will easily evaporate, thereby facilitating a
quick change from the liquid form at time of application to the consistency of the original
asphalt cement. Gasoline or naphtha generally is used as the solvent for this series of asphalts.

The grade of rapid-curing asphalt required dictates the amount of solvent to be added to the
residual asphalt cement. For example, RC-3000 requires about 15 percent of distillate,
whereas RC-70 requires about 40 percent. These grades of asphalt can be used for jobs similar
to those for which the MC series is used, but where there is a need for immediate cementing
action or colder climates.

Asphalt emulsions
Emulsified asphalts are produced by breaking asphalt cement, usually of 100-250 penetration
range, into minute particles and dispersing them in water with an emulsifier, These minute
particles have like electrical charges and therefore do not coalesce. They remain in suspension
in the liquid phase as long as the water does not evaporate or the emulsifier does not break.
Asphalt emulsions therefore consist of asphalt, which makes up about 55 percent to 70
percent by weight, up to 3% emulsifying agent, water and in some cases may contain a

Two general types of emulsified asphalts are produced, depending on the type of emulsifier
used: cationic emulsions, in which the asphalt particles have a positive charge; and anionic, in
which they have a negative charge. Each of the above categories is further divided into three
subgroups, based on how rapidly the asphalt emulsion will return to the state of the original

asphalt cement. These subgroups are rapid setting (RS), medium-setting (MS), and slow
setting (SS). A cationic emulsion is identified by placing the letter "C" in front of the
emulsion type; no letter is placed in front of anionic and nonionic emulsions. For example,
CRS-2 denotes a cationic emulsion, and RS-2 denotes either anionic or nonionic emulsion.

The anionic and cationic asphalts generally are used in highway maintenance and
construction. Note, however, that since anionic emulsions contain negative charges, they are
more effective in adhering aggregates containing electropositive charges such as limestone,
whereas cationic emulsions are more effective with electronegative aggregates such as those
containing a high percentage of siliccous material. Cationic emulsions also work better with
wet aggregates and in colder weather. Bitumen emulsions break when sprayed or mixed with
mineral aggregates in a field construction process; the water is removed, and the asphalt
remains as a film on the surface of the aggregates. In contrast to cutback bitumens, bitumen
emulsions can be applied to a damp surface. The Air-Blown Bitumens

The physical properties of the short residue are further modified by air-blowing. Air-blowing
is a process in which a soft asphaltic residue is heated to a high temperature in an oxidation
tower where air is forced through the residue either on a batch or a continuous basis. The
process results in a dehydrogenation and polymerization of the residue. The hard asphaltic
material produced by this process is known as oxidized or air-blown asphalt and is usually
specified and designated by both softening point and penetration tests. If proper precautions
are not taken, the temperature can rise to the point where the physical characteristics of the
product are seriously affected. However, by controlling the conditions in the process a large
variety of blown asphalts can be produced. Oxidised bitumens are used almost entirely for
industrial applications, such as roofing, flooring, mastics, pipe coatings, paints, etc, but their
use in road construction is limited. Road Tars

Tars are obtained from the destructive distillation of such organic materials as coal. Their
properties are significantly different from petroleum asphalts. In general, they are more
susceptible to weather conditions than are similar grades of asphalts, and they set more
quickly when exposed to the atmosphere. Tars are rarely used now for highway pavements.

6.2. Tests for Bituminous Materials

Several tests are conducted on bituminous materials to determine both their consistency and
their quality to ascertain whether materials used in highway construction meet the prescribed
specifications. Some of these specifications are provided in standards of AASHTO, ASTM,
and Asphalt Institute. Procedures for testing and selecting representative samples of asphalt
have also been standardized.

6.2.1. Consistency Tests

The consistency of bituminous materials is important in pavement construction because the

consistency at a specified temperature will indicate the grade of the material. It is important
that the temperature at which the consistency is determined be specified, since temperature

significantly affects the consistency of bituminous materials. As stated earlier, asphaltic
materials can exist in either liquid, semisolid, or solid states. This necessitates for more than
one method for determining consistency of asphaltic materials. The property generally used to
describe the consistency of asphaltic materials in the liquid state is the viscosity, which can be
determined by conducting either the Saybolt Furol viscosity test or the kinematic viscosity
test. Tests used for asphaltic materials in the semisolid and solid states include the penetration
test and the float test. The ring-and-ball softening point test may also be used for blown
asphalt. Saybolt Furol Viscosity Test

Saybolt Furol viscosity test is a test carried out by the Saybolt Furol Viscometer which has a
standard viscometer tube, 12.7 cm (5 in) long and about 2.54 cm (1 in) in diameter with an
orifice of specified shape and dimensions provided at the bottom of the tube. When testing,
the orifice is closed with a stopper, and the tube is filled with a quantity of the material to be
tested. The material in the tube is brought to the specified temperature by heating in a water
bath and when the prescribed temperature is reached the stopper is removed, and the time in
seconds for exactly 60 milliliters of the asphaltic material to flow through the orifice is
recorded. This time is the Saybolt Furol viscosity in units of seconds at the specified
temperature. Temperatures at which asphaltic materials for highway construction are tested
include 25oC (77oF), 50oC (122oF), and 60oC (140oF). It is apparent that the higher the
viscosity of the material, the longer it takes for a given quantity to flow through the orifice. Kinematic Viscosity Test

The test uses a capillary viscometer tube to measure the time it takes the asphalt sample to
flow at a specified temperature between timing marks on the tube. Three types of viscometer
tubes, namely Zeitfuch's cross-arm viscometer, Asphalt Institute vacuum viscometer, and
Cannon-Manning vacuum viscometer are used.

When the cross-arm viscometer is used, the test is started by placing the viscometer tube in a
thermostatically controlled constant temperature bath, and a sample of the material to be
tested is then preheated and poured into the large side of the viscometer tube until the filling
line level is reached. The temperature of the bath is then brought to 135oC (275oF), and some
time is allowed for the viscometer and the asphalt to reach a temperature of 135oC (275oF).
Flow is then induced by applying a slight pressure to the large opening or a partial vacuum to
the efflux (small) opening of the viscometer tube. This causes an initial flow of the asphalt
over the siphon section just above the filling line. Continuous flow is induced by the action of
gravitational forces. The time it takes for the material to flow between two timing marks is
recorded. The kinematic viscosity of the material in units of centistokes is obtained by
multiplying the time in seconds by a calibration factor for the viscometer used. The
calibration of each viscometer is carried out by using standard calibrating oils with known
viscosity characteristics. The factor for each viscometer is usually furnished by the

The test may also he conducted at a temperature of 60oC (140oF) using either the Asphalt
Institute vacuum viscometer or the Cannon-Manning vacuum viscometer. In this case, flow is
induced by applying a prescribed vacuum through a vacuum control device attached to a
vacuum pump. The product of the time interval and the calibration factor in this test gives the
absolute viscosity of the material in poises.

7 Penetration Test
The penetration test gives an empirical measurement of the consistency of a semi-solid
asphaltic material in terms of the depth a standard needle penetrates into that material under a
prescribed loading and time. It is the bases for classifying semi-solid bituminous materials
into standard grades.

Figure 6- 3. Standard penetration test

Figure 6- 3 shows a schematic of the standard penetration test. A sample of the asphalt cement
to be tested is placed in a container, which in turn is placed in a temperature-controlled water
bath. The sample is then brought to the prescribed temperature of 25oC (77oF), and the
standard needle, loaded to a total weight of 100 gm, is left to penetrate the sample of asphalt
for the prescribed time of exactly 5 sec. The penetration is given as the diepth in units of 0.1
mm that the needle penetrates the sample. For example, if the needle penetrates a depth of
exactly 20 mm, the penetration is of the material is said to be 200. When carried out at
different temperature penetration test can indicate temperature susceptibility of the binder. Float Test

The float test is used to determine the consistency of semisolid asphalt materials that are more
viscous than grade 3000 or have penetration higher than 300, since these materials cannot be
tested conveniently using either the Saybolt Furol viscosity test or the penetration test.

Figure 6- 4. Float test

The float test is conducted with the apparatus schematically shown in Figure 6- 4. It consists of an
aluminum saucer (float), a brass collar that is open at both ends, and a water bath. The brass collar is
filled with a sample of the material to be tested and then is attached to the bottom of the float and
chilled to a temperature of 5oC (41oF) by immersing it in ice water. The temperature of the water bath
is brought to 50oC (122oF), and the collar (still attached to the float) is placed in the water bath, which
is kept at 50oC (122oF). The head gradually softens the sample of asphaltic material in the collar until
the water eventually forces its way through the plug into the aluminium float. The time in seconds that
expires between the instant the collar is placed in the water bath and that at which the water forces its

way through the bituminous plug is the float test value, and it is a measure of consistency. It is
apparent that the higher the float-test value, the stiffer the material. Ring-and-Ball Softening Point Test

The ring-and-ball softening point test is used to measure the susceptibility of asphaltic
maertails to temperature changes by determining the temperature at which the material will be
adequately softened to allow a standard ball to sink through it. Figure 6- 5 shows the
apparatus commonly used for this test. It consists principally of a small brass ring of 15.875
mm (5/8 in) inside diameter and 6.35 mm (1/4 in) high, a steel ball 9.525 mm (3/8 in) in
diameter, and a water or glycerin bath. The test is conducted by first placing a sample of the
material to be tested in the brass ring, which is cooled and immersed in the water or glycerin
bath that is maintained at a temperature of 5oC (41oF). The ring is immersed to a depth such
that its bottom is exactly 2.54 mm (1 in) above the bottom of the bath. The temperature of the
bath is then gradually increased, causing the asphalt to soften and permitting the ball to sink
eventually to the bottom of the bath. The temperature in at which the asphaltic material
touches the bottom of the bath is recorded as the softening point.

Figure 6- 5. Ring-and-ball softening point test

6.2.2. Durability Tests

When asphaltic materials are used in the construction of roadway pavements, they are
subjected to changes in temperature and other weather conditions over a period of time. These
changes cause natural weathering of the material, which may lead to loss of plasticity,
cracking, abnormal surface abrasion, and eventual failure of the pavement. This change,
known as weathering, is caused by chemical and physical reactions that take place in the
material. One test used to evaluate the susceptibility characteristics of asphaltic materials to
changes in temperature and other atmospheric factors is the thin-film oven test. Thin-Film Oven Test (TFO)

This is a procedure that measures the changes that take place in an asphalt during the hot-mix
process by subjecting the asphaltic material to hardening conditions similar to those in a
normal hot-mix plant operation. The consistency of the material is determined before and

after the TFO procedure, using either the penetration test or a viscosity test, to estimate the
amount of hardening that will take place in the material when used to produce plant hot-mix.

The procedure is performed by pouring 50 cc of the material into a cylindrical flat-bottom

pan, 14 cm (5.5 in) inside diameter and 1 cm (3/8 in) high. The pan containing the sample is
then placed on a rotating shelf in an oven and rotated for five hours at a temperature of 163oC
(325oF). the amount of penetration after the TFO test is then expressed as a percentage of that
before the test to determine percent of penetration retained. The minimum allowable percent
of penetration retained is usually specified for different grades of asphalt cement.

6.2.3. Rate of Curing

Tests for curing rates of cutbacks and emulsions are based on inherent factors, which can be
controlled. The test is conducted to determine the time required for a liquid asphaltic material
to increase in its consistency on the assumption that the external factors are held constant.
Volatility and quantity of solvent for cutbacks are commonly used to indicate the rate of
curing. The curing rates for both cutbacks and emulsions may be determined from the
distillation test. Distillation Test for Cutbacks

In the distillation test for cutbacks, the apparatus used consists principally of a flask in which
the material is heated, a condenser, and a graduated cylinder for collecting the condensed
material. A sample of 200 cc of the material to be tested is measured and poured into the
flask. The material is then brought to boiling point by heating it with the burner. The
evaporated solvent is condensed and collected in the graduated cylinder. The temperature in
the flask is continuously monitored and the amount of solvent collected in the graduated
cylinder recorded when the temperature in the flask reaches 190oC (374oF), 225oC (437oF),
260oC (500oF), and 316oC (600oF). The amount of condensate collected at the different
specified temperatures gives an indication of the volatility characteristics of the solvent. The
residual in the flask is the base asphaltic material used in preparing the cutback. Distillation Test for Emulsions

The distillation test for emulsions is similar to that described for cutbacks. A major difference,
however, is that the glass flask and Bunsen burner are replaced with an aluminum alloy still
and a ring burner. This equipment prevents potential problems that may arise from the
foaming of the emulsified asphalt as it is being heated to a maximum of 260oC (500oF). the
results obtained from the use of this method to recover the asphaltic residue and to determine
the properties of the asphalt base stock used in the emulsion may not always be accurate
because of significant changes in the properties of the asphalt due to concentration of
inorganic salts, emulsifying agent, and stabilizer. These changes, which are due mainly to the
increase in temperature, do not occur in field application of the emulsion since the
temperature in the field is usually much less than that used in the distillation test. The
emulsion in the field, therefore, breaks either electrochemically or by evaporation of the
water. An alternative method to determine the properties of the asphalt after it is cured on the
pavement surface is to evaporate the water at subatmospheric pressure and lower

6.2.4. General Tests

Several other tests are routinely conducted on asphaltic materials used for pavement
construction either to obtain specific characteristics for design purposes (for example, specific
gravity) or to obtain additional information that aids in determining the quality of the material.
Some of the more common routine tests are described briefly hereunder. Specific Gravity Test

The specific gravity of asphaltic materials is used mainly to determine the weight of a given
volume of material, or vice versa, to determine the amount of voids in compacted mixes and
to correct volumes measured at high temperatures. Specific gravity is defined as the ratio of
the weight of a given volume of the material to the weight of the same volume of water. The
specific gravity of bituminous materials, however, changes with temperature, which dictates
that the temperature at which the test is conducted should be indicated. For example, if the
test is conducted at 25oC (77oF) which is usually the case and the specific gravity is
determined to be 1.41, this should be recorded as 1.41/25oC. Note that both the asphaltic
material and the water should be at the same temperature.

The test is normally conducted with the dry weight (W 1 ) of the pycnometer and stopper is
obtained, and then the pycnometer is filled with distilled water at the prescribed temperature.
The weight (W 2 ) of the water and pycnometer together is determined. If the material to be
tested can flow easily into the pycnometer, then the pycnometer must be completely filled
with the material at the specified temperature after pouring out the water. The weight W3 is
then obtained. The specific gravity of the asphaltic material is then given as

W3 − W1
Gb =
W2 − W1

Where G b is the specific gravity of the asphaltic material and W 1 , W2 , and W3 are in grams. If
the asphaltic material cannot easily flow, a small sample of the material is heated gradually to
facilitate flow and then poured into the pycnometer and left to cool to the specified
temperature. The weight W4 of pycnometer and material is then obtained. Water is then
poured into the pycnometer to completely fill the remaining space not occupied by the
material. The weight W 5 of the filled pycnometer is obtained. The specific gravity is then
given as

W4 − W1
Gb =
(W2 − W )1 − (W5 − W4 ) Ductility Test

Ductility is the distance in centimeters a standard sample of asphaltic material will stretch
before breaking when tested on standard ductility test equipment at 25oC (77oF). The result of
this test indicates the extent to which the material can he deformed without breaking. It also
indicates the temperature susceptibility of binders. Bitumens possessing high ductility are
usually highly susceptible to temperature while low ones are not.

The test is used mainly for semisolid or solid materials, which first are gently heated to
facilitate flow and then are poured into a standard mold to form a briquette of at least 1 cm2 in
cross section. The material is then allowed to cool to 25oC (77oF) in a water bath. The
prepared sample is then placed in the ductility machine and extended at a specified rate of
speed until the thread of material joining the two ends breaks. The distance (in centimeters)
moved by the machine is the ductility of the material. Solubility Test

The solubility test is used to measure the amount of impurities in the asphaltic material. Since
asphalt is nearly 100 percent soluble in certain solvents, the portion of any asphaltic material
that will be effective in cementing aggregates together can be determined from the solubility
test. Insoluble materials include free carbon, salts, and other inorganic impurities. The test is
conducted by dissolving a known quantity of the material in a solvent, such as
trichloroethylene, and then filtering it through a Gooch Crucible. The material retained in the
filter is dried and weighed. The test results are given in terms of the percent of the asphaltic
material that dissolved in the solvent. Flash-Point Test

The flash point of an asphaltic material is the temperature at which its vapors will ignite
instantaneously in the presence of an open flame. Note that the flash point is normally lower
than the temperature at which the material will burn. The test can be conducted by using
either the Tagliabue open-cup apparatus or the Cleveland open-cup apparatus. The Cleveland
open-cup test is more suitable for materials with higher flash points, whereas the Tagliabue
open-cup is more suitable for materials with relatively low flash points, such as cutback
asphalts. The test is conducted by partly filling the cup with the asphaltic material and
gradually increasing its temperature at a specified rate. A small open flame is passed over the
surface of the sample at regular intervals as the temperature increases. The increase in
temperature will cause evaporation of volatile materials from the material being tested, until a
sufficient quantity of volatile materials is present to cause an instantaneous flash when the
open flame is passed over the surface. The minimum temperature at which this occurs is the
flash point. It can be seen that this temperature gives an indication of the temperature limit at
which extreme care should be taken, particularly when heating is done over open flames in
open containers. Loss-on-Heating Test

The loss-on-heating test is used to determine the amount of material that evaporates from a
sample of asphalt under a specified temperature and time. The result indicates whether an
asphaltic material has been contaminated with lighter materials. The test is conducted by
pouring 50 g of the material to be tested into a standard cylindrical tin and leaving it in an
oven for 5 hr at a temperature of 163oC (325oF). The weight of the material remaining in the
tin is determined, and the loss in weight is expressed as a percentage of the original weight.
The penetration of the sample may also he determined before and after the test to determine
the loss of penetration due to the evaporation of the volatile material. This loss in penetration
may be used as an indication of the weathering characteristics of the asphalt.

7.3. Bitumen-Bound Materials

Bitumen-bound materials are mixtures of aggregates of different gradation and bitumen

/asphalt cement/ forming the top layer(s) of flexible pavement. Many different types of
premixed bitumen-bound materials are manufactured throughout the world. Depending on the
gradation of aggregates used, the mixture is known as asphalt concrete, rolled asphalt,
bitumen macadam, or sand asphalt. Depending on the temperature during mixing and
construction, it is also designated as hot-mix hot-laid, hot-mix cold laid, or cold-mix. The
most common type of premixed asphalt, asphalt concrete, is made from a continuous graded
aggregate and it relies for its strength on the interlock between the aggregate particles and on
the properties of the mortar of bitumen, fine aggregate, and fillers. Asphalt concrete of
different qualities may be used for the construction of wearing course, binder course, and base
course. Premixed asphalts are either designed using special mix design methods or made
according to recipe specification without reference to a formal design method. Asphalt
concrete and sand asphalt are usually designed using mix design methods such as the
Marshall method, whereas rolled asphalt and asphalt macadam are often made to recipe

The two fundamental characteristics of bitumen-bound materials are stability and durability.
Both stability and durability are intimately related to density of the mixture, which is a
function of voids in the mixture. The extent of voids in a compacted mix is determined mainly
by the percent of binder in the mix. A fundamental goal of the mix designer is, therefore, to
determine the best or optimum binder content that will provide the required stability and
durability as well as other desirable properties such as impermeability, workability, and
resistance to bleeding.

A compacted well graded aggregates normally posses a certain density and a relatively low
stability. As a small amount of bitumen binder is added to the mixture, both the density and
stability will increase due to film of binder coating aggregates. If we continue adding more
binder, the aggregate particles will be completely covered and void spaces will be filled. Both
the stability and density will keep increasing until the voids in the mixture are completely
filled. When the binder is in excess, it will, generally, result in a decrease in both density and
stability. This means that the most desirable bitumen content for many mixtures would be that
which would just fill the voids in the compacted mixture. This, however, has two pit falls in
practice: (1) any increase in temperature would cause expansion of bitumen binder which
results in the subsequent of bleeding and loss of stability; and (2) extra compaction of the
mixture under the action of traffic loading could also cause excess of binder which again
results in bleeding and loss of stability. These lead to a practical consideration to fix the voids
in the mixture in the range of the minimum to avoid bleeding and loss of stability and the
maximum voids content based on durability consideration of limiting air and water circulation
in the mix which accelerates the hardening of the binder which causes premature failure of the
pavement structure.

In general, to perform satisfactorily, the finished bitumen-bound layer needs to possess the following

High stiffness in order to reduce the stresses transmitted to the underlying layer;
High resistance to deformation;
High resistance to fatigue ;

 High resistance to environmental degradation i.e. good durability;
 Low permeability to prevent the ingress of water and air; and
 Good workability to allow adequate compaction to be obtained during construction.

The aggregates used in the paving mixture are normally categorized as coarse aggregates
(aggregates retained on 2.36 mm sieve), fine aggregates (aggregates passing 2.36 mm sieve),
and fillers (passing 0.075 mm sieve). Coarse aggregates for premixed asphalt should be
produced by crushing sound, unweathered rock or natural gravel to obtain angular, rough-
texture particles with good mechanical interlock. The coarse aggregate should be:

 Clean;
 Low-absorptive;
 Angular in shape;
 Weather-resistance; and
 Resistance to abrasion and polishing if used in wearing courses.

Hydrophilic aggregates which have a poor affinity for bitumen in the presence of water
should also be avoided. Fine aggregate can be crushed rock or natural sand and should also be
clean and free from organic impurities; weather-resistant; and non-plastic. The filler can be
crushed rock fines, Portland cement or hydrated lime. Portland cement or hydrated lime is
often added to natural filler (1-2 % by mass of total mix) to assist the adhesion of the bitumen
to the aggregate. Fresh hydrated lime can help reduce the rate of hardening of bitumen in
surface dressings and may have a similar effect in premixes.

Table 5-8. Recommended quality of coarse and fine aggregates for use in premixed asphalt

The bitumen used for production of hot premixed asphalt is usually penetration 40/50, 60/70,
or 80/100. With the consideration of the environmental conditions of the project, the selection
of bitumen is a compromise between workability, deformation resistance and potential
hardening in service. If possible, bitumen should be selected which has a low temperature
sensitivity and good resistance to hardening. The bitumen content depends on the asphalt
type, but normally it lies between 4 and 7 percent by mass of the total asphalt.

In the Marshall method of mix design (to determine the optimum binder content), cylindrical
test specimens with a diameter of 102 mm and a specimens height of about 64 mm are
prepared using a standard procedure for heating, mixing and compacting the asphalt mix. Test
specimens are made for a range of bitumen contents within the prescribed limits. At least

three specimens are provided for each bitumen content to facilitate the provision of adequate
data. Each specimen is then subjected to a density test and a stability-flow test. The density
test consists of weighing the specimen in air and in water. The volume is the difference
between the mass in air and the mass in water. The bulk density is calculated as the ratio
between the mass in air and the volume.

Two more characteristics are calculated: (1) the air voids in the mix, i.e. the total volume of
the small pockets of air between the coated aggregate particles in the compacted mixture, and
(2) the voids in the aggregate, i.e. the total volume of air and bitumen in the compacted
mixture. The air voids and the voids in aggregate are calculated from the bulk density of the
compacted specimen, the bitumen content, the specific gravity of the bitumen, and the
apparent specific gravity of the aggregate. In conducting the stability- flow test, the specimen
is heated to 60 °C in a water bath. The specimen is then placed in the Marshall testing
machine between two collar-like testing heads and compressed radially at a constant rate of
strain as shown in Figure 5-7. The Marshall stability is the maximum load resistance in units
of Newtons. The flow value is the total deformation of the specimen at the maximum load.
When testing is complete, plots are prepared for bitumen content versus (1) density, (2)
percentage of air voids in mix, (3) percentages of voids in aggregate, (4) stability, and (5)
flow as shown in Figure 5-8. The design binder content is the mean value of the binder
contents for (a) maximum stability, (b) maximum density, and (c) the mean value for the
specified range of void contents. Compliance of properties at this design binder content with
recommended Marshall criteria is then checked from Table 5-9.

Figure 5-7. Marshall testing machine

Table 5-9. Suggested Marshall Test Criteria

Total Traffic < 1.5 1.5 - 10.0 > 10.0
(106 ESA)
Traffic classes Tl; T2; T3 T4;T5;T6 T7;T8
Minimum stability (kN at 600C) 3.5 6.0 7.0
Flow (mm) 2-4 2-4 2-4
Compaction level (Number of blows) 2 x 50 2 x 75 To refusal
Air voids (per cent) 3-5 3-5 3–5

Figure 5-8. Plots of Marshall test results

Figure 5-9. Types of Surface Treatments

Surface Dressings or Treatments: is a wearing course construction by which a thin film of
binder, generally bitumen or tar, is sprayed onto the road surface and then covered with a
layer of stone chippings. A single surface dressing is adequate as a wearing course on lightly
trafficked roads and a maintenance measure on existing pavements. Double surface dressing
should be used on new roads expected to carry more than 100 vehicles per day and in case
where the chippings are particularly poor shaped or very weak. The thin film of binder acts as
a waterproofing seal preventing the entry of surface water into the road structure. The stone
chippings protect this film of binder from damage by vehicle tires, and form a durable, skid-
resistant and dust-free wearing surface.

Ideally, the chippings should be single-sized, cubical, strong, durable, clean and dust-free.
Specifications for maximum aggregate crushing value (ACV) typical1y lie in the range of 20-35, and
in wet climates a minimum polished stone value (PSV) of 45-60 is required depending on traffic and
site characteristic. The nominal size of chippings used for surface dressing is usually 6, 10, 14, or
20mm. The appropriate size is selected from Table 5-10. For double surface dressings the size of
chippings for the first layer should also be selected according to Table 5-10, but the size of the
chippings for the second layer should be about half the size of the first layer to promote good interlock
between layers.

Table 5-10. Recommended nominal chipping size in mm

Refined bitumen, cutback bitumen and emulsified bitumen may be used as a binder for surface
dressings. The binder used must be sufficiently fluid at road temperature to wet the road surface and
the chippings. At the same time the binder must be sufficiently viscous not to drain off from the road
surface and strong enough to retain the chippings when the road is opened to traffic. In the tropics the
road temperature typically lies between 25 °C and 50 °C. Figure 5-10 shows the permissible range of
binder viscosity at various road temperatures and the appropriate grades of bitumen and cutback.

Figure 5-10. Choice of binder for surface dressing

Once the size of chippings and the type of the binder have been selected, the next step is to determine
the required rate of spread of the binder. The rate of spread depends on the average thickness of the
stone chippings when they have settled in their final position on the road. It is assumed that the
particles will settle with their least dimension being vertical. The average least dimension (ALD) of
the selected chippings may be measured manually on a representative sample. The rate of application
of binder also depends on the type of chippings, the level of traffic, the condition of the existing road
surface, and the climate. An appropriate factor for each of the four sets of conditions is selected from
Table 5-11 and added together to give a total weighting factor. The ALD and the weighting factor are
then used with Figure 5-11 to obtain the required rate of application of binder. Chippings should be
spread at a rate corresponding to a single, tightly packed layer plus a 10% allowance to ensure
complete coverage. A rough guide is given at the top of Figure 5-11.

Table 5-11. Condition factors for determining the rate of application of binder for SD

Rate of spread of binder: The rate of spread of cutback is determined by the intercept
between the factor line and the appropriate ALD line. For penetration bitumen the rate
determined from the chart should be reduced by 10%. For cutbacks with a viscosity greater
than 2000 cSt, no modification is required, but when cutbacks with lower viscosity are used
the rate of binder may need to be increased by 10 %. For emulsions the rate should be
multiplied by (90/b) where b is the percentage of bitumen in the emulsion. For slow traffic or
steep climbing grades the rate should be reduced by 10 %. For fast traffic or steep downgrades
the rate should be increased by 10 to 20 %.

Chippings application rate: The rate is determined from Figure 5-11 for the given ALD at the
interception of line AB. The chipping application rate should be regarded as a rough guide only. The
precise application rate is determined by observing on site.

Figure 5-11. Rate of spread of binder and chippings