Investigative Comparison of Tank and Recovered Asphalt Samples Through Physical Performance Testing and Chemical Analysis
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Despite the development of improved performance test protocols by renowned researchers, there are still road networks which experience premature cracking and failure. One area of major concern in asphalt science and technology, especially in cold regions in Canada is thermal (low temperature) cracking. Usually right after winter periods, severe cracks are seen on poorly designed road networks. Quality assurance tests based on improved asphalt performance protocols have been implemented by government agencies to ensure that roads being constructed are at the required standard but asphalt binders that pass these quality assurance tests still crack prematurely. While it would be easy to question the competence of the quality assurance test protocols, it should be noted that performance tests which are being used and were repeated in this study, namely the extended bending beam rheometer (EBBR) test, double edge-notched tension test (DENT), dynamic shear rheometer (DSR) test and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis have all been verified and proven to successfully predict asphalt pavement behaviour in the field. Hence this study looked to probe and test the quality and authenticity of the asphalt binders being used for road paving. This study covered thermal cracking and physical hardening phenomenon by comparing results from testing asphalt binder samples obtained from the storage ‘tank’ prior to paving (tank samples) and recovered samples for the same contracts with aim of explaining why asphalt binders that have passed quality assurance tests are still prone to fail prematurely. The study also attempted to find out if the short testing time and automated procedure of torsion bar experiments can replace the established but tedious procedure of the EBBR. In the end, it was discovered that significant differences in performance and composition exist between tank and recovered samples for the same contracts. Torsion bar experimental data also indicated some promise in predicting physical hardening.