Innovations In Asphalt Production

Asphalt production in the late 19th and early 20th century was unregulated, dirty, fast, and profitable. Firstly, there were fewer regulations in general, on any industry at the time. Second, there was a serious lack of regulations. Both in emissions and materials sourcing had few laws, so it was easier to produce asphalt. Three, the nation as a whole was less developed, so there were simply more roads to build. As the 20th century progressed the automobile became the norm. More roads were needed. With the demand for roads came driveways and parking lots. This demand was coupled with relatively low resource constraints and regulation. Thus, it created a boom in the asphalt industry. Pollution and environmental degradation went on to become a major source of health risk during the 20th century. It led to some serious environmental disasters. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire over a dozen times. Eventually, there was the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, emission level controls, and other regulations regarding pollution. These new laws were passed to control what people and corporations could put in the earth, air, and water.

Asphalt is already sustainable

The asphalt industry, fortunately, stood to benefit from requirements on efficiency and cleaner production. As of now, asphalt is surprisingly green.

  • It’s the world’s most recycled material, leading even steel and aluminum in total quantity recycled. This means that new asphalt significantly easier to produce. Also, old asphalt winds up in land fills less often. The recycling rate is over 80%. This recycling has some serious benefits including (data from 2019):
    • 2.4 million metric tons of C02e (carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gasses) spared from atmospheric release.
    • Nearly 90 million tons of reclaimed asphalt used each year. As opposed to new asphalt.
    • 94 % Of asphalt mixture reclaimed from old asphalt paving and put into new pavements.
    • 921,000 tons of recycled asphalt shingles put into new mixes.
    • 24 million barrels of virgin asphalt binder replaced by recycled binder.

These numbers are nothing to scoff at. However, new developments in asphalt manufacturing plants are making it even more efficient, and greener.

Systems and technologies that are making asphalt cheaper and better

A great improvement in efficiency comes from the machines that process recycled asphalt

New machining systems help produce larger quantities of recycled asphalt faster. Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP), is what makes up the majority of new asphalt. Amann, an industrial technology company, has a new machine, the RSS 120-M RAP, which processes large amounts of RAP more efficiently. Using a strategy that doesn’t tear apart RAP, it can produce up to 120 tons per hour when using milled cuttings of RAP. It can produce up to 80 tons per hour when processing slabs of RAP. The machine is also relatively small and lightweight compared to other recyclers. Therefore, it is easier to move to various sites. The machine’s slow rotating process shreds RAP while keeping the grain structure and coating. A magnetic separator removes iron and steel. Meshes of varying sizes can filter out the aggregate according to the producer’s requirements. Materials too big for the mesh/new asphalt can be recirculated into the machine, or used as the new asphalt’s sub-base.

All-in-one aggregate preparation systems

E-MAK’s Megaton is an all-in-one system that prepares aggregate efficiently, quickly, and is almost entirely automated. Aggregate is the small rocks and stones that make up the majority (about 95%) of the asphalt. The remaining “glue” that holds it together is the binder.

The E-MAK system uses a recyclable, environmentally-friendly, and energy saving system to produce aggregate on site. It can work for 24 hours a day. It can provide for asphalt, concrete, and other aggregate needs. The machine has 3 tons of storage and a daily production level of 10,000 tons. Furthermore, it is environmentally friendly and highly productive thanks to several main innovations.

  • It contains an internal recycling system, recycling over-sized aggregate back into the mix until it is the right size.
  • A filtering system seriously reduces dust emissions.
  • An improved sieving system optimizes aggregate flow.
  • Adjustable and modular, so it can be quickly engineered for different sizes of aggregate.

Full recycling technology mixing plants

The Marini company’s plan to keep up with ever-rising asphalt demand is a full recycling technology (FRT) mixing plant. You can read more about their recycling policies and strategies here. With a combination of a plant that can make aggregate/binder batches with 100% RAP and an advanced filtration system, they are expected to have the lowest emissions of any asphalt production facility.

Read about other company’s specific developments/inventions/innovations here.

WMA improvements

WMA is warm-mix asphalt. It is leading the way in energy reduction, because it requires less fuel. Hot-mix asphalt (HMA) is the standard, and requires substantial fuel in order to be made. WMA removes this fuel requirement.

Specific innovations in warm-mix asphalt are as follows:

  • The addition of organic and synthetic additives in the mixing process.
  • Hard-foamed and soft binder used at various stages in production.

These innovations allow the WMA production process to use less fuel. Emissions from burning are therefore lower. The additives enable the binder to be viscous at lower temperatures. This enables it to coat the aggregate with less heating, and thus less fuel usage.

Pave your way to a cleaner future

If you want a paving contractor with efficient and sustainable practices, then look no further than Reliable Paving. We have 35 years of experience paving in and around the Fort Worth area in Texas. Not only do we do new paving with asphalt and concrete, we use reycled material. In order to help you get the most out of your paving, we also re-stripe and seal coat pavement to ensure it lasts a long time. Finally, one of our specialties is ensuring ADA compliance. Our business is built on integrity. Come see why by sending us a message today. Come see why we are Texas’ most trusted paving contractor, you won’t be disappointed.