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									                     TESTS ON BITUMEN

Bituminous Material:

British Standards:

               “ Bitumens are naturally occurring hydrocarbons, and the residues
                        obtained from the distillation of petroleum.”

American Standards:

     According to American Standards, Bitumens are the same as that defined
under BS, the only addition is that they must be soluble in Carbon Disulphide

                             Bituminous Materials

               Bitumen                                        Tar

 Petroleum                   Native
What is Tar?                 asphalt

                     “Tar is a viscous liquid obtained when natural organic
                       materials such as wood and coal are carbonized or
                          destructively distilled in the absence of air.”

                       “When the bitumen contains some inert material or
                                minerals, it is called asphalt.”

Why to Perform Tests?

         To gather as much data as possible, which may be helpful in the
          construction of Pavements.

         Material properties can be analyzed by performing various tests on
          specified samples of the material.

       Although there is a general agreement as to their significance, it is impractical
to attempt and discuss all tests and their variations. In the following, tests will be
placed on factors relating to why they are carried out.


 Consistency            Flash & Fire             Specific          Composition
                            Point                Gravity

Penetration Viscosity Softening Ductility Float

                         Solubility     Ash        Loss on       Water Distillation
                                       Content     Heating      Content

     Consistency is defined as:

                         “The resistance of a material to flow.”

      Since this property changes as the temperature varies, it must be realized that
there is no single method of test that can readily evaluate all bituminous binders for
consistency over such a wide range.

                             PENETRATION TEST

AASHTO Designation:           T49-80
ASTM Designation :            D5-73
BS Designation    :           2000-49


      To determine the penetration grade of bitumen, to be used for road

      It gives the choice to select the grade of bitumen according to the climatic
       conditions of the area where the road is to be constructed.


      Consistency of a bituminous material expressed as "the distance in 1/10 th of
mm that a standard needle vertically penetrates a sample under standard conditions
of load, time and temperature."

       Temperature         : 25C
       Load                : 100 grams
       Time                : 05 seconds


  Temperature raised up to 100C i.e. above its softening point.

  Sample is cooled to a temperature of 5C.

  Place the sample in the Penetrometer.

  Standard needle is approximately 50 mm (2 in.) in length and 1.00 to 1.02 mm
   (0.039 to 0.040 in.) in diameter.

  The needle tapered at an angle of 8.7 to 9.7.

  At least three penetrations are carried out, then the nearest whole value unit
   the average of the three penetrations, whose values do not differ maximum by
   8, gives the penetration value of the bitumen.

  For penetration values greater than 200, three different needles should be

               0-80                        4%
              80-225                       5%
             225-above                     7%


  Used to measure the consistency of semi-solid asphalt bitumen so that they
   can be classified into standard grades.
      Penetration values lower than 20 have been associated with bad cracking of
       road surfacing, while cracking rarely occurs when the penetration exceeds 30.

      Surfacing containing penetration-grade bitumen, must be premixed & laid hot.

      The higher penetrations are preferred for use in “colder” climates.

                                VISCOSITY TEST

AASHTO Designation:           T54-61
ASTM Designation :            D1665-61


       The viscosity of a liquid is:

             "The property that retards flow so that when a force
              is applied to a liquid; the slower the movement of
              the liquid, the higher the viscosity; in this sense
              viscosity is the “pure” measure of consistency."

                            “Resistance to flow”


      Almost 58 instruments are used for measuring “VISCOSITY”. They may be
       divided into main three groups, based on the following principles of

1-     The flow of a body through a liquid.
2-     The flow of a liquid through a tube.
3-     The rotation of 1 of 2 co-axial cylinders when the space between them
       is filled with a liquid.

      Most bitumen binder specifications for road works are based on the results
       obtained with industrial viscometers that utilize the second principle.
  The most common test, which is performed in BRITIAN, is the STANDARD


  Time is measured, in seconds, for a fixed quantity of the binder liquid (50 ml)
   to flow from a cup through a standard orifice under an initial standard head
   and at a known test temperature.

  The temperature ranges from 25-100C and is generally so selected that the
   specific viscosity is no more than 45 dynes sec./cm2.

  The orifice having size of 10mm is used for important physical characteristic
   of road.


   AASHTO Designation:         T72
   ASTM Designation :          D88, D244

  Saybolt viscometer is used to measure viscosity of American grades of
   cutback bitumen.

  It utilizes a much smaller orifice than the STV. Because of this, high
   temperatures are required and it is usual to conduct the test in an oil bath.


  If a binder of very low viscosity is used & pre-mixed with the aggregates, it
   may flow off the stone while en route from the mixing plant to the site.

  Conversely, if the viscosity is too high, the mixture may be unworkable by the
   time it reaches the site.
  In case of handling, mixing & spraying, the lower the binder viscosity, the
   better it would be.

  In case of the low-viscosity binders, there is less chance of pipes blocked,
   mixing and application temperature can be kept lower, aggregates are more
   easily coated.

                    SOFTENING POINT TEST


                “It is the temperature at which the substance attains
                 particular degree of softening under specified test

                         RING & BALL TEST

   AASHTO Designation:        T53-81
   BS Designation    :        2000-58


  This method is extensively used to evaluate the consistency of bituminous

  A steel ball of 3/8 in. , weighing (3.50.03) gms, is placed upon a disk of
   sample contained within a horizontal, shouldered, metal ring of specified

  The whole assembly is heated in either ethylene glycol (B.P 193-204C) or
   water bath at a uniform rate (50.5C per min).
   Temperature is raised until the test sample is soft enough and allows the ball
    to fall through a distance of 2.5 cm.

   Temperature at this point is read to the nearest 0.5C and called

             SOFTENING POINT              REPEATABILITY
                 Below 30C                   2C
                  30-80C                    1C
                 80C -above                  2C


   Softening point is not a melting point; bituminous binders do not melt but
    instead gradually change from semi-solids to liquids when heated.

   It is useful in the classification of certain asphalts and tars and is indicative of
    the tendency of the material to flow at elevated temperatures encountered in

   When two bitumens have same penetration grade (value), the one with the
    higher softening point is normally less susceptible to temperature changes.

   Practical significance of the test is limited. Therefore specifications of many
    bituminous binders for particular purposes are often written without softening
    point requirements.

                             DUCTILITY TEST


         “A ductile material is the one that elongates when held
                                       in tension.”

    It is defined as:

    “The distance in centimeters that a standard semi-solid will
                             elongate before breaking.”


   The property is desirable in road bitumen in order to overcome the movements
    induced in the surfacing by traffic and temperature stresses.

   The ductility test is actually the measure of the internal cohesion of bitumen.

   Bitumens possessing high ductility are normally cementations and adhere well
    to aggregates. Thus bitumen with 100 cm ductility might well be considered a
    better road-surfacing constituent than with 10 cm ductility, but a binder with a
    80-cm ductility is not necessarily better than a 60 cm one.

   Bitumens possessing high ductility are highly susceptible to temperature
    changes, while low ones are not.

   The lack of ductility does not necessarily indicate the poor quality; indeed,
    bitumen of low susceptibility and low ductility are highly desirable as crack-
    fillers in roadways.

   The harder grades of bitumen are less ductile than the softer ones.

   Ductility test is probably the most controversial of the many empirical tests
    found in the asphaltic bitumen literature.

AASHTO Designation:        T 51-81
ASTM Designation :         D113-79

  The distance to which it will elongate before breaking, when two ends of a
   briquette are pulled apart at a specified temperature (25C) and speed (50mm
   per min  5%) is measured.

  Minimum cross-section of the briquette before testing is 1 cm2.

                              FLOAT TEST
 AASHTO Designation: T 50-81
 ASTM Designation : D139-77


  For a certain range of consistency of the bitumen materials, orifice viscometer
   test or penetration test cannot be used to define consistency of the material.

  Float Test measures the material of this group.


  Sample is completely melted at the lowest possible temperature that will bring
   it to sufficiently pouring condition.

  A float made of aluminum or aluminum alloy (weighing 37.90-38.10 gms)
   and a brass collar (weighing 9.60-10.00 gms) is filled with the specimen
   material to be tested.

  Test specimen is cooled to room temperature for 15-60 min at 5C and
   screwed in to the float.

  The float assembly is then placed in a water bath at 50C and the time
   required in seconds, for water to force its way through the bitumen plug is
   noted, as the float test value.
   Higher the float test value, stiffer is the material.

   Bitumen         A 25       A 35       A 45       A 65       A 90      A 200
 Penetration       20-30      30-40      40-50     60-70      80-100    175-225
Min. ductility       5          10        12         15         15         15
  value, cm
  Softening        55-70      55-70      45-60     45-60      35-50      30-45
   point, C


   Bituminous materials leave out volatiles at high temperatures. The quantity of
    volatile materials depends upon their grades. These volatiles catch fire causing
    a flash.

   This condition is very hazardous and it is therefore essential to qualify this
    temperature for each bitumen grade, so that paving engineers may restrict the
    mixing and application temperatures.

   Flash and Fire Point tests are primarily safety tests, flash point being the more
    important since it indicates the maximum temperature up to which the binder
    can be safely heated.

   Flash Point of most penetration-grade bitumen lies in the range of 246-316


                 „„The temperature at which the vapors given off from
                     the binder first burn with a brief flash of blue flame‟‟

                  „„The temperature at which the vapors continue to burn
                             for a period of at least 5 seconds‟‟

                          CLEVELAND OPEN CUP

AASHTO Designation:            T 48-81
ASTM Designation :             D 92-78


      The test cup is filled with the sample to the filling line, at a temperature not
       exceeding 100-180C above softening point.

      The temperature of the sample is increased rapidly at first and then at slow
       rate as the flash point is approached.

      At specified intervals, a small test flame is passed across the cup.

      The lowest temperature at which application of the test flame causes the
       vapors above the surface of the sample to ignite is taken as the flash point.

      To find the fire point, the test is continued until the application of the test
       flame causes the sample surface to ignite and burn for at least 5 sec.


       Specific gravity is defined as:

                “The ratio of the weight of a given volume of material at
                    a given temperature to that of an equal volume
                           of water at the same temperature”.

   Density of a bitumen binder is a fundamental property frequently used as an
    aid in classifying the binders for use in paving jobs.

   In most applications, the bitumen content, when used with aggregate, is
    converted into volume basis.

   Principle use is the establishment of relationship between binder weight and
    volume for transporting and filling purposes.

   Specifications for binders in road surfacing are normally expressed as
    percentages by weight whereas they are usually shipped and measured in

   Also, useful in determining the percentage of voids in mechanically designed
    mixtures of bitumen‟s and mineral aggregate.

   Also, useful in bituminous mix design.


AASHTO Designation:       T 74-70
ASTM Designation :        D 369-67


     Weigh the empty pycnometer (W1).

     Weigh the pycnometer and sample (W3 ).

     Weigh the pycnometer again, filled with water (W2 ).

     Fill the pycnometer with sample, mix it thoroughly with water and weigh it
      again (W4 ).

     Finally by using the formula, find out the specific gravity:
                            Gs = ______ W3-W1______
                                   (W2-W1) - (W4-W3)

      Test temperature is usually 15.5 C.

      It varies from 0.97 to 1.02.


     As it is clear from the table, most binder specifications include criteria
regarding composition.

      A number of tests have been devised to determine the proportions of the
specific fractions and components of the bituminous binders.

                          DISTILLATION TEST

     AASHTO Designation: T78-80
     ASTM Designation  : D402-76


   It is used to find out the quantity and quality of volatile constituents.

   The amount of non-volatile residues present in road tars, cutback
    bitumen and binder emulsions.

   In emulsions, the volatile component is of course water.

  Two Hundred milliliters of the sample is distilled in a 500 mL flask at a
   controlled rate to a temperature of 360C.

  Then determine the volume of distillate removed at prescribed standard


  The distillation tests are amongst the most valuable of the highway tests for
   bituminous binders.

  The test enable a close check to be kept on the quality of the binders used on
   road schemes.

  Results also provide very useful information not only on the type of volatiles
   in the binders, but also on the rate at which these volatiles will be lost under
   field conditions.

  If, for instance, a given cutback is found to speed its volatiles too slow on a
   given road scheme, then under similar conditions a cutback with higher
   boiling range volatiles, as determined by the distillation test, can be expected
   to cure even more slowly.

                      WATER CONTENT TEST

   AASHTO Designation : T55-78
   ASTM Designation   : D95-70


  The moisture content of a binder is automatically determined when a
   distillation test is carried out.
  Some time it is desirable to determine the moisture content alone, without
   carrying out a complete distillation procedure.

  In such instances the moisture content may be determined directly by mixing
   a specified amount of binder with a predetermined amount of
   petroleum spirit (for bitumen) with which it is immiscible & distilled in a
   flask or still which is attached to a glass water-cooled reflux condenser &
   graduated receiver.

  Distillation is continued until the volume of water in the receiver is constant.

  This volume is then measured and expressed as a %age by weight of the
   original material.


  Bituminous binders should only contain extremely low moisture contents if
   they are to be heated beyond 100 C.

  If significant quantities of water are present & this temperature is exceeded,
   foaming of the binder will occur.

                      LOSS-ON-HEATING TEST

    AASHTO Designation : T47-82
    ASTM Designation   : D6-80
    BS Designation     : 2000-45


   A 50gram sample of bitumen is placed in a small container.

   It is left for 5 hours in a revolving-shelf oven.

   The temperature of oven is maintained at 165 C.
    At the end of the heating period, the sample is cooled to room temperature &

    The loss in weight of the sample is then determined and expressed as a %age
     of the original weight.

      The penetration test is often carried out on the residue of the loss-on-heating
test. The result obtained is expressed as a %age of the penetration of the bitumen
before heating.


   Specifications for penetration-grade asphalt bitumen may require that the max
    loss of weight on heating & the max. drop in penetration should not exceed
    particular values.

   In practice, the losses in weight & penetration values are almost within the
    specifications requirements.

   This loss on heating is essentially an accelerated volatilization test.

   The test is of use only as a general indication of volatile content under the
    specified conditions of test.

   If the consistency of the residue is compared with that of the original, the
    amount of hardening resulting from this amount & manner of volatilization is
    all that is indicated.

                          ASH CONTENT TEST

     AASHTO Designation : T59-82
     ASTM Designation   : D244-79


                  “It is the % age by weight of inorganic residue left after
                                ignition of the sample.”

  Place a 2-5 sample of residue in a weighed porcelain or platinum crucible and
   weigh the sample to the nearest 0.1g.

  Slow burn off the combustible matter and finally ignite the residue until the
   ash is free of carbonaceous matter.

  Cool the crucible and content in a desiccators and weigh, reporting the result
   as % age of ash.


  This test is carried out on both penetration-grade & cutback bitumen.

  In refinery bitumen, the test ensures that undesirable amounts of mineral
   matter are not present. This is particularly important for surface dressing

  The presence of ash in bitumen is not necessarily harmful in itself, as it is
   evidenced by the use of lake asphalt in road surfacing either on its own or in
   blended mixtures.

  In such instances, the ash test is most useful in determining the composition of
   the binder.

                          SOLUBILITY TEST

   AASHTO Designation: T44-81
   ASTM Designation : D2042-76


  Differ solvents are used in determining the %age of the binder present in
   bitumen or tar.
   In the case of bitumen, the accepted solvent is carbon disulphide (cs2).

   A specified quantity of binder, usually about 2gms, is dissolved in a given
    quantity of solvent.

   Filter the solution through a fine porosity filter.

   Then the residue retained is determined and the %age of soluble material is


      A solubility requirement of 99.5% in CS2 is found in all British specification
for refinery bitumen.

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