Technical Articles

What are the 4 types of asphalt cement?

Asphalt cement, also known as bitumen, is a crucial component in the construction industry. It serves as the binding agent in asphalt concrete, forming durable pavements for roads, driveways, and other infrastructure projects. There are various types of asphalt cement available, each with its unique characteristics and applications.

1. Performance-Graded Asphalt Cement (PGAC)

Performance-graded asphalt cement is widely used in the United States due to its ability to withstand different climates and traffic loads. It is classified based on temperature susceptibility and performance grading. PGAC is designed to meet specific requirements for high temperature performance, low-temperature cracking resistance, and overall durability.

2. Polymer-Modified Asphalt Cement (PMAC)

Asphalt cement can be modified by adding polymers such as styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) or styrene-butadiene-rubber (SBR). The addition of polymers enhances the properties of asphalt, improving its elasticity, fatigue resistance, and rutting resistance. PMAC is commonly used in areas with heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions.

3. Emulsion-Modified Asphalt Cement (EMAC)

Emulsion-modified asphalt cement is created by blending asphalt cement with water and an emulsifying agent. This process converts asphalt cement into tiny droplets, dispersing it in water. EMAC is more workable at lower temperatures and is often used for surface treatments like chip seals, slurry seals, and microsurfacing.

4. Cutback Asphalt Cement

Cutback asphalt cement is produced by dissolving asphalt cement in a solvent (typically a petroleum distillate). The solvent reduces the viscosity of asphalt, allowing for easy application. The solvent evaporates as the asphalt cures, leaving a solid pavement. Cutback asphalt cement is primarily used in areas with lower temperature and thinner pavement layers.

In conclusion, the construction industry offers various types of asphalt cement to meet specific project requirements. Performance-graded asphalt cement provides overall durability, while polymer-modified asphalt cement enhances its resistance to traffic loads and extreme climate conditions. Emulsion-modified asphalt cement is ideal for surface treatments, and cutback asphalt cement offers ease of application in lower temperature environments. By understanding the different properties of each type, engineers and contractors can make informed decisions to ensure long-lasting and reliable pavement structures.


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