As the number of heavy-duty vehicles increases, roads are being subjected to even higher loads, usually requiring replacement after ten to twelve years. An innovative bitumen additive from BASF has been designed to help roads last longer.
BASF has spent several years developing the additive together with the Institute of Highway Engineering in Aachen; the additive is now available under the name B2Last. The product’s aim is already reflected in its name: “bitumen to last”.
We expect an extension of the average road life span by up to 50 percent.—Dag Wiebelhaus, responsible Head of Product Innovation in the Monomers operating division
B2Last crosslinks bitumen components to form a polymeric network. It makes asphalt stiffer and thereby boosts the rutting and fatigue behavior at high service temperatures. In addition, the formed polymeric network provides enough elasticity to deliver excellent crack resistance at low service temperatures.
Studies have demonstrated that the asphalt remains stable even when ambient temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees Celsius higher than usual—an essential aspect as summers become warmer. At the same time, the road surface still has enough elasticity to prevent cracking at cold temperatures.
Roads that are replaced less frequently not only reduce costs. Fewer road construction sites also means fewer traffic jams.—Otto Kumberger, Head of Strategy in the Monomers operating division at BASF
The use of the new additive also enables the reduction of bitumen emissions during road construction, since asphalt mix production and laying can be carried out at 135 to 145 degrees Celsius and not at 160 or 180 degrees as usual.
Measurements from an independent laboratory show that the bitumen vapors and aerosols, to which the road construction workers are exposed, drop by up to 65 percent.—project manager Michael Zeilinger
The innovative additive thus helps to already partially fulfill the new occupational exposure limit during asphalt laying. In Germany this limit was recently reduced from 10.0 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meters.
Additionally, the new bitumen additive allows CO2 savings—not only because it permits less frequent repair of the roads and less energy at asphalt mix production. When B2Last is used, a large proportion of reclaimed asphalt, i.e. recycled asphalt, can be added to the asphalt mixture. This means that less new material has to be produced, normally requiring high levels of energy and resources causing CO2 emissions.
Experiences gathered from various paving trials, including the construction of a test section on the A96 highway near Munich, have confirmed this.
We have seen that B2Last chemically interlinks the aged and virgin bitumen in an effective manner. At the same time, a high proportion of reclaimed asphalt still allows excellent homogeneity and processability of the mixture.—Michael Zeilinger
On behalf of BASF, the Institute for Transport Systems and Infrastructure of the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences has carried out a life cycle analysis on the basis of laboratory tests and model calculations for B2Last provided by the Institute of Highway Engineering of the RWTH Aachen University. It showed that the use of B2Last can save up to 46% CO2 emissions and up to 37% primary resources.
The product also offers a cost-saving potential of up to 24% for an expected life cycle of the asphalt base layer of 60 years.
B2Last is available now in Europe and from July in North America, with other regions also planned to follow.