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Asphalt pavement material is a precisely engineered product composed of about 95 percent stone, sand, and gravel by weight, and about 5 percent asphalt cement, a petroleum product. Asphalt cement binds the material together.
Asphalt is an increasingly sophisticated material. Pavements being built today can be engineered to meet a variety of needs – for less noise, greater durability, enhanced skid resistance, reduced splash and spray in rainy weather, and a smoother ride than ever before.
Another way in which the asphalt industry is ‘going green’ is in the introduction of Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA). According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), WMA is the wave of the future. NAPA defines warm mix as ‘the generic term for a variety of technologies that allow producers of hot-mix asphalt pavement material to lower the temperature at which the material is mixed and placed on the road.’
Such reductions have the obvious benefits of cutting fuel consumption and decreasing the production of greenhouse gases. Other benefits include better compaction on the road, the ability to haul paving mix for longer distances and the ability to pave at lower temperatures.
This new ‘green asphalt’ was developed in Europe and has been heavily used there for the last 10 years. It has piqued the interest of industry associations in this country, especially NAPA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and over the last two to three years it has been growing in popularity here. Midsouth Paving has begun working with warm mix asphalt recently.
Based on field data and laboratory studies, it is clear that warm mix is the future of our industry.