Abstract

Oxidative age hardening of bitumen results in increasing fatigue susceptibility of bituminous mixtures, thus reducing the service life of asphalt pavements. Polymer additives to bitumen have been shown to improve its viscoelastic properties and, in some cases, reduce the level of bitumen hardening. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy enables evaluation of oxidation levels in bitumen by measuring the concentration of oxygen-containing chemical functionalities. This paper summarizes the results of the investigation of oxidative age hardening of polymer-modified bitumens (PMB) caused by accelerated aging in laboratory conditions. The PMB samples are prepared with different concentrations of styrene–butadiene-based co-polymers. Next, the PMB samples are aged using standard procedures that employ air blowing at 163 °C for 85 min followed by conditioning the samples at 100 °C and 2.1 MPa pressure for 20 to 48 hours. The resultant changes in their chemical composition are evaluated by portable attenuated total reflection (ATR) spectrometer. Measurements of ketone, sulfoxide, and hydroxyl content in PMB samples indicated similar oxidation pathways to those of non-modified bitumens. In addition, no evidence of polymer degradation due to accelerated aging of PMB was found in this study.

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