Evaluation of test sections with Polymer Modified Bitumens

Xiaohu Lu
Hilde Soenen
Serge Heyrman
Per Redelius

It has been recognized that Polymer Modified Bitumens (PMB) have more potential for use in asphalt paving and can clearly demonstrate the value of their initial higher cost. To further assess sustainable benefits on heavy trafficked roads, test sections using various PMBs were built on highway E6 in Sweden during 2003-2006. The main objective of this paper is to study the aging and rheological properties of the binders used. A large number of cores were drilled and characterized with respect to stiffness, fatigue and permanent deformation. The binders (original, lab aged and recovered) were investigated extensively with rheological and chemical methods. It was found that PMBs, particularly SBS modified, demonstrate better rheological properties as compared to unmodified bitumens, even after several years in the field. These include higher strain recovery and lower non-recoverable compliance at high temperatures, and lower stiffness at low temperatures. For the SBS modified binders, good aging resistance was observed. The high resistance to aging for the SBS modified binders was also evident in the stiffness measurement made on asphalt field cores. Although significant differences have not yet been seen between the test sections (all the sections are in good condition after six years of traffic), the observed improvements for the modified binders are expected to be confirmed by a longer follow-up of the test road.

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