What Is Asphalt And What Is It Used For?

Asphalt is a black, semi-solid byproduct of petroleum that cements aggregates of stone and sand together. Its main uses are paving roads and highways, but also bicycle paths and roof coatings.

It is manufactured at an asphalt plant, which can be either a fixed or mobile mixing unit. The asphalt produced is known as hot mix and it has a high viscosity within a specific temperature range. You can rely on asphalt contractors to carry out these projects safely.

What Is Asphalt?

Asphalt is a black, sticky substance that, when mixed with aggregates, forms pavement for roads. It is derived from bitumen which can be found naturally and also produced from petroleum. It is often confused with tar which has different properties but they are used for similar purposes.

It is a thermoplastic which means that it softens when heated and then rehardens when cooled. Its adhesion to aggregates is dependent on the polar molecules in the asphalt binding with the polar surfaces of the aggregates.

It is very tenacious and resilient which makes it ideal for roads where the pressure from vehicles is constantly changing. It is also highly water resistant. 

Hot Mix

Asphalt, also known as hot mix, is a combination of aggregates like stone, sand and gravel bound together with asphalt cement at high temperatures. This mixture is then laid and compacted to create a road surface. This type of asphalt is used for commercial and residential paving projects.

The key ingredients of asphalt are gravel, sand and a black, viscous petroleum-based substance called bitumen. The gravel and sand are mixed with bitumen in a hot asphalt plant to create a mixture that can be applied to roads, driveways, and parking lots.

Cold Mix

Asphalt is made by combining aggregates (like rocks, sand, and gravel) with bitumen, a black, sticky, petroleum-derived liquid that holds the aggregates together. It is mixed at a plant and then spread on roads and other surfaces to create a strong, durable surface that withstands heavy traffic and weather conditions.

Asphalt’s durability and skid-resistant surface make it an ideal material for constructing airport runways and taxiways, as well as bike paths and pavements. It’s also used on professional racing circuits for its ability to withstand high speeds and provide grip.

Warm Mix

It is also used in a variety of other critical applications like canal and reservoir linings, dams and sea works. Asphalt can be found naturally but it is usually obtained by distilling crude oil and can come in many different consistencies from light road oils through to high-temperature grades.

Traditional hot mix asphalt (HMA) uses the polarity of its molecules to bind with the polar surfaces of aggregate stones to create a strong, durable and stable road surface. However, there are new techniques being developed to produce asphalt at low production temperatures which can be classified as warm mix asphalt (WMA). The most common WMA technologies use either plant modifications or organic or chemical additives to reduce the asphalt binder’s viscosity.