Definition of a laboratory optimization protocol for road bitumen improvedwith recycled tire rubber

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Bearing in mind the need to answer one of the most frequent needs for civil construction, in general, andmajor project such as road infrastructures in particular, this paper presents the results of a laboratoryexperimental study in order to evaluate the performance improvement that is possible to achieve whenmodifying road bitumen with CRM (Crumb Rubber Modifier) from discarded tire rubber (TR), using a WetProcess.The environmental advantage is double, since the aim of the research is to obtain high performanceroad bitumen thanks to the re-use of a discarded material, such as the rubber tires, which otherwisewould be dumped in scrap-yard.In particular, this experimental study aimed to define a laboratory optimization protocol that allowedto discriminate amongst the different asphalt–rubber blends, in relation to the different content of rubber,as well as to the blending times, with the possibility of carefully controlling the production temperaturethroughout the production process. In order to do this, simple and widespread laboratoryequipments and procedures have been adopted, such as the Brookfield rotational viscometer, capableof ensuring the representativeness of the final product to be tested.After the optimization study, a comparison was made between the conventional and rheological propertiesof the optimized rubber–asphalt blend with those of two commercially available PMBs, modifiedwith synthetic rubber type Styrene–Butadiene–Styrene, with two different level of modification: a mediumand a high level of polymer, respectively termed as ‘‘Medium’’ and ‘‘High’’ in this study. This comparisonallows one to appreciate to what extent control of the modification process is able to affectthe properties of the final product and shows that the preliminary optimization of the mixing parameterscarried out with the proposed protocol allows one to obtain a rubber–bitumen blend with improved performances,above all reduced temperature susceptibility, as proved by an increase in the Superpave™high temperature performance grading, up to a two grade jump, which it is possible to obtain only forSBS modified bitumen with high content of polymer.Therefore, this study proves that, thanks to the appropriate re-use of crumb rubber form scrap tires,with the proposed optimization protocol it is possible obtain improved bitumen with high content ofrecycled materials that, with respect to specific needs of regions with warm climates such as the Mediterraneanarea, can be considered as ‘‘high-performance blends’’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-572
Number of pages11
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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