Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is a sticky and thick organic substance that is used as a binder in the construction of roads, pavements, and other civil engineering projects. It is produced from crude oil through a process of distillation and is then refined to produce various grades of asphalt.
What are the different grades of asphalt?
There are mainly three grades of asphalt: penetration graded asphalt, viscosity graded asphalt, and performance graded asphalt.
1. Penetration Graded Asphalt: This type of asphalt is the most commonly used asphalt grade in the construction of roads and pavements. It is classified by the depth to which a standard needle will penetrate when applied to the substance for 5 seconds at a standard temperature. The penetration values range from 15 to 450 tenths of a millimeter, where the lower values indicate a harder asphalt. Penetration graded asphalts are suitable for areas with high traffic loads and extreme weather conditions.
2. Viscosity Graded Asphalt: This type of asphalt is classified based on the viscosity range of the asphalt binder at a standard temperature of 60°C. Viscosity grading is the most common method used to grade asphalt in many countries. The range of viscosity values for this type of asphalt is 40 to 1500 poises where the higher values indicate a stiffer asphalt. Viscosity graded asphalt is typically used for a range of pavement structures, including heavy-duty pavement areas.
3. Performance Graded Asphalt: This type of asphalt is also classified based on performance characteristics of the binder under the actual conditions, including temperature and loading. These grades are determined by characteristics such as stiffness, fatigue cracking, low temperature cracking, and rutting resistance of the asphalt. Performance grade asphalts are designed for extreme temperatures and heavy traffic loads, offering a longer lifespan compared to other grades of asphalt.
Overall, the choice of the appropriate grade of asphalt for construction depends on various factors such as type of pavement, traffic conditions, climate, cost, and service life requirements. It is important for engineers and contractors to consider these factors before selecting the grade of asphalt to ensure optimal performance and durability of the pavement.