The Importance of Asphalt Testing
While asphalt has many uses, its primary application is road construction. In any climate, roadways are subjected to a wide range of harsh conditions, including extreme temperatures and precipitation, along with the inevitable wear and tear of heavy use. Roadways may also be affected by shifts in the ground, which can change the surface grade and put additional strain on the asphalt.
Laboratory testing is key to predicting how asphalt materials will perform and respond to environmental conditions over time. This may include:
- Material property changes. Asphalt often becomes increasingly stiff, viscous, and brittle over time, a phenomenon known as “age hardening.” Asphalt testing can help predict the timetable of age hardening and measure the efficacy of additional materials that may be added to mitigate or slow the age hardening process.
- Water permeability. If too much water penetrates the asphalt material, it can compromise adhesion throughout the road structure and lead to problems. Laboratory testing can measure the material’s resistance to water, fuel, and other substances.
- Adhesion to other roadway components, such as crack fillers and sealants.
Asphalt testing gives manufacturers the data they need to identify potential issues, find solutions, and optimize their products for long-term performance. And because laboratory testing allows for isolation of specific variables, more precise investigations can be conducted in a laboratory than a real-world setting.
Asphalt roadways can shift and move over time in concert with the earth’s surface. This is primarily caused by thermal expansion and other weather-related changes, but in certain parts of the world, tectonic activity can also play a role. The elasticity of the asphalt material is key to preventing the surface from cracking or tearing as a result of these shifts. Elasticity testing can measure the elastic recovery performance of asphalt materials. A common elasticity test method for asphalt is ASTM D6084, which uses a ductilometer to measure elastic recovery.
Pure asphalt is rarely used in road construction projects. Most asphalt materials are made with fillers, binders, and other materials that serve to enhance or modify the physical properties of the material. One property affected by the addition of polymers is the softening point. Softening point testing is ideal for determining how much polymer material can be added before the final product becomes excessively vulnerable to rutting in high temperatures. A common method for measuring the softening point of asphalt materials is ASTM D36.
Sealant and Filler Testing
Many asphalt roadways are built, repaired, and enhanced with fillers and sealants over time. Fillers and sealants are used to create a tight seal between the roadway and infrastructure elements or repair cracks that appear on the surface. The long-term performance of these fillers and sealants depends on their ability to stay bonded with the asphalt material, even under stress, and maintain performance when exposed to water, oil, or other fluid substances. These properties can be measured objectively in a laboratory setting, which gives manufacturers the opportunity to test product performance and solve any potential shortcomings before launch. Common sealant and filler tests include ASTM D5329 and ASTM D6690.
Ensure the Lifespan of Your Compounds
ACE Laboratories is proud to offer a robust portfolio of asphalt testing services to help you predict the performance and lifespan of your asphalt materials. Whether you’re seeking to demonstrate compliance with industry standards, working through a product development challenge, or developing a new product, you can count on ACE to keep your project on track and help you find the answers you need. Our ISO 17025 accredited laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art testing equipment and staffed by materials experts, so you can count on accurate data and the fastest turnaround times in the industry.
To learn more about asphalt durability testing, talk to a member of our team.