Each and every year, millions of tons of asphalt are paved across sidewalks, highways and parking lots all over the States. But considering its vital role in our modern world – creating the infrastructure to travel from A to B – how much do you know about asphalt? Do you know what it is, how it’s made, and why it is so important? We’re here to tell you more!
What is asphalt made of?
Asphalt – otherwise known by its chemical name bitumen – is the black, sludgy leftovers produced during the crude oil refinery process. It is rarely used on its own, and will usually be mixed with gravel or sand at a fixed plant (where production can reach 800 tons per hour!), before it is applied to pavements.
Why are there different types of asphalt?
There is no one standard mix of asphalt, for two main reasons. Firstly, asphalt is applied to different surfaces, for varying purposes. Some roads will be paved from scratch with asphalt while others will be ‘patched up’ during the maintenance process. Other surfaces will be heavily used – such as frequent vehicles on the interstate – while other places like a private parking lot will be subjected to less wear and tear. Weather conditions are also a factor; harsh temperatures and blaring sunshine can take their toll too.
Secondly, asphalt is not made using one process. It can be produced via a hot, warm or cold mix – which works exactly as you would imagine! Hot mix asphalt is subjected to high temperatures; warm mixes are more energy efficient and easier to work with, while cold mixes require the use of a specific emulsion.
Some fascinating facts about asphalt:
Asphalt is, in fact, is a very interesting compound! Here are a few facts to amaze and entertain.
- Asphalt is a sustainable material – with over 60 million tons reused or recycled every year in the US alone
- Over a prolonged period of time, asphalt is actually more cost effective than concrete
- Asphalt helps to boost your fuel economy! Smoother roads minimise your vehicle’s fuel consumption
- Historians believe asphalt was first used in Babylon, around 625 BC
- The first US asphalt pavement was laid in New Jersey in 1870
Why is asphalt so important?
And finally, a word on why asphalt is such an important material for us all. To start, it’s about quality of travel. Not only does it improve the condition of our highways, pavements and parking lots, but it is economical too. A smoother ride is beneficial for your vehicle – reducing fuel consumption and making for a more comfortable journey – plus asphalt is sustainable too! As for the future – we predict asphalt shows no signs of letting up as America’s number one surfacing material. It’s cost-effective, durable, and professional-looking – making it an undeniably great choice for all paving uses.