Most asphalt mixes use reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) to help drive down costs during production. Unfortunately, too much RAP can make the asphalt mixture stiff and brittle, which in turn will result in poor performance of the pavement and a shorter lifespan.
In this application, Kraton Performance Polymers is highlighting how its styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) modified binders, have proven to deliver enhanced performance compared to non-polymer modified binders.
Currently, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) allows a maximum of 20% RAP in any mixture that uses a PG 76-22 to capitalize on the cost benefit of the RAP usage and the performance benefit of the polymer.
Among the concerns with higher RAP contents is the recycled binder replacement, which in turn equates to less virgin asphalt, and consequently a diluted polymer content.
To combat this, Kraton recommended the use of its PolyRejuvenator technology to activate and “rebalance” the RAP binder to a softer, more usable product, and a highly polymer modified binder (HiMA), designated as “high polymer” in the FDOT Specifications.
The ‘rejuvenator’ “thus increases the amount of RAP that can be used in the mixture while compensating for the diluted polymer content, the materials company stated.
Using a balanced mix design concept that optimises the cracking and rutting performance of an asphalt mixture is a way to allow an asphalt producer to find innovative ways to utilize RAP while maintaining performance, explains Kraton.
During the design process, it noted, if performance test results for resistance to cracking are low, a typical fix would be to decrease the RAP content or increase the asphalt binder content; the latter being more expensive.
An innovative alternative is to add a rejuvenator to the asphalt mixture that activates the RAP binder and enhances the overall performance, the company pointed out.
Kraton completed a cost analysis calculating the performance benefit of the PolyRejuvenator technology and increased binder content versus the cost benefit of RAP and found the breaking point to be around 40% RAP.
The company then evaluated a 40% RAP granite mixture using its ‘rejuvenator’ technology at a traditional 4.0% air voids per FDOT requirements, as well as the mixture’s rutting and cracking performance as compared to the traditional mixture of 40% RAP using a PG 52-28.
Then it decided to use a balanced mix design approach by designing at 3.5% air voids, which increased the optimum binder content, but ultimately balanced the performance of the mixture.
Three mixtures were produced at the Asphalt Testing Solutions & Engineering (ATS) laboratory in Jacksonville, Florida, using components outlined in Table 1.