Bitumen is often used in road construction thanks to its advantages over most pavement construction materials. Bitumen has unique properties built in from its manufacture, which are widely beneficial to road construction.
Here are the reasons why bitumen has significant application in constructing flexible pavements:
1. It is Versatile
Bitumen’s physical and rheological properties are factors in load level, temperature, and duration of loading. Since bitumen is a thermoplastic and viscoelastic material, these dependencies allow constructors to assess and consider the traffic on the road so that the suitable bitumen mix properties are used based on the calculated stress levels.
Moreover, this versatility allows constructors to base the bitumen mix on the road traffic and other factors. As a result, they can produce a wide variety of mixes based on road application.
2. It Is Economical
Bitumen is made from distilling crude oil, which in itself is a composition of hydrocarbons. The main products available are high octane fuels, petrol, diesel and gasoline. When these fuels are refined from crude oil, only the bitumen is left behind.
The bitumen is then further treated to rid it of impurities. As an essential product for society, bitumen as a by-product is set to stay in the market for a long time. It is primarily used as a construction material.
3. It Has a Low Melting Point
Another advantage of bitumen is that it has a low and favourable melting point, allowing it to both surface dressing and wear resistance quickly. Bitumen’s melting point is not so low that it melts easily while still being applied to the pavement.
At the same time, bitumen’s favourable melting point prevents the already cast road from melting and deforming under high temperatures. The material’s aggregate composition helps protect it against the effects of hotter areas.
4. It Has an Adhesive Nature
During the production of bitumen, it is freed from hydrocarbons, eliminating its toxicity. The by-product is refined to a maximum to eliminate organic materials and impurities effectively. Bitumen’s adhesive nature keeps materials in the rod mix bound together under strong bonds, becoming stronger once the mix sets in and is ready for vehicular movement on it.
5. It Can Be Recycled
Besides bitumen having a low and favourable melting point, it can also be melted back to its original state. This is called the asphalt recycling process. The torn-up asphalt pieces can be taken to the plant to undergo recycling and then be reused. If necessary, the old bitumen is mixed with new bitumen and new aggregates to liven up the mix.
6. It Comes in Various Colours
While bitumen is generally black in colour (due to the dense organic material within it), pigments can be added to obtain any colour of your choice. Coloured bitumen is usually more expensive than the standard kind and can be slightly disadvantageous due to the amount of chemical additives and materials needed to make it.
Bitumen has remarkable properties that make it an excellent material for road construction. From its favourable melting point to its chemical compositions it is ideal for exposure to harsh weather conditions, as tested by our Australian summers.
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