Development of Renewable Polymers for Use in Asphalt Pavements

This study was aimed at developing and demonstrating the application of bio-renewable polymers for use in asphalt pavements by utilizing soybean oil through chemical synthesis. Triglyceride molecules from vegetable oils have been considered as important renewable resources, which can be used as biomonomers and be polymerized into biopolymers with properties similar to petroleum-derived monomers and polymers. Biopolymers with various polymer formulations were synthesized to investigate their effects in asphalt modification. Chemical and rheological characterization of biopolymers and biopolymer modified asphalt binders were conducted to better understand the materials properties. The chemical characterizations were studied by conducting the hydrogen nuclear magnetic resonance (H-NMR), high temperature gel chromatography (HT-GPC), and other tests. The rheological properties of biopolymer modified binders were evaluated through a comprehensive asphalt binder testing program according to the AASHTO/ASTM test methods. The biopolymer modified asphalt binder testing results were subsequently used for statistical analysis and modelling to identify the significant polymer formulation parameters that affected the modification results and allowed researchers to optimize the biopolymer formulation for use in asphalt binders. A cost comparisons between the biopolymer and the styrene-butadiene (SB) polymer were made to evaluate the economic benefits of biopolymer in the polymer production and the hot mix asphalt (HMA). The biopolymer formulation that performed best was selected and produced in the laboratory and the grading results confirmed its effectiveness in asphalt modification. The cost comparisons indicated that the biopolymer was able to save about $2,800 per lane mile in the HMA than that of SB polymer. A newly constructed biopolymer pilot plant in Iowa was able to produce more than 600 gallons of the biopolymer for paving a National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) Test Track section. Production of the biopolymer at the pilot plant demonstrated the biopolymer polymerization reaction could be scaled up from the laboratory to the pilot plant level. The success of the biopolymer asphalt mixture paving construction proved that the biopolymer could be blended at existing asphalt blending and production facilities and the mixture can be mixed and compacted as easily as other commercial polymer modified binders in mixtures, working at the same dosage level and delivering similar or even better modification effects. These biopolymers are also sustainable, cost effective, and environmentally friendly. The overall research effort demonstrated the feasibility of implementing the biopolymer into construction practices.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $124999
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-30, IDEA 178

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Jawed, Inam

  • Performing Organizations:

    Iowa State University

    Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management
    339 Science II Hall
    Ames, Iowa  United States  50011-3221
  • Principal Investigators:

    Williams, R

  • Start Date: 20140000
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20181200
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37593

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543404
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-30, IDEA 178
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 14 2014 1:01AM