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Open Access Publications from the University of California

High Percentages of Reclaimed Asphalt Affect the Performance of Asphalt Binder

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More than 90 percent of the road and highway network in the United States is paved with asphalt concrete. Maintenance and periodic rehabilitation require a continuous supply of aggregates and asphalt binder, both of which are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Recycling and reusing these resources can reduce costs and improve sustainability. The most common recyclable material used in road construction is reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), which is milled asphalt surface layers that have been removed from existing pavements before new asphalt overlay is placed. Reclaimed asphalt roofing shingles (RAS) are another potential source of asphalt binder.

There is growing interest in allowing significantly higher percentages of RAP and RAS in asphalt mixes used on state and local roadways. However, making this change has raised concerns regarding how these composite binders may influence the performance and durability of asphalt mixes, depending on the blends of different virgin and reused binders. Researchers at the UC Pavement Research Center investigated the use of higher percentages of RAP and RAS as a partial replacement for the virgin binder in new asphalt mixes and their effect on pavement performance in California. This research brief summarizes findings from that study.

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