Driving through a construction zone can be a frustrating experience as you navigate the orange cones that quarter off the area. However, it's important to recognize the significance of road maintenance and pavement preservation in ensuring that the country’s infrastructure remains in the best possible condition.
 
Regular upkeep of roads and pavements not only prolongs their lifespan but also reduces the frequency of repairs and replacements, saving taxpayers’ money in the long run. Additionally, well-maintained roads and pavements provide a smoother and safer driving experience, reducing the risk of accidents and improving the overall quality of life for commuters. BASF is dedicated to helping its customers build roads that are safer, longer-lasting, and cost-effective. The company’s partnership with the pavement industry is based on developing chemistry that meets the highest highway standards while preserving today’s roads for tomorrow.
 
Polymer innovation is essential to enhance the performance and longevity of asphalt roads. BASF offers an array of innovative technologies that can cater to specific needs for asphalt applications. For instance, to preserve slurry applications, polymer modification can help improve its durability and longevity. For maintenance purposes, thin overlays can provide an excellent solution to restore the surface quickly and efficiently. For driver safety, an open-graded friction course can help reduce the risk of skidding on wet roads. If you're concerned about protecting the environment, porous asphalt can reduce runoff and improve drainage. Additionally, bond coat emulsions can help improve the strength of asphalt while reducing tracking, making it an ideal solution for road construction and maintenance projects of all sizes. For fewer driving interruptions, micro surfacing techniques can be employed at night to get workers off the road quicker and to improve your commute to work.
 
BASF is dedicated to developing sustainable solutions for asphalt mixtures through its portfolio. The current portfolio consists of Butonal® asphalt modifiers and Acronal polymers, which are high-quality SBR polymer dispersions that have a proven track record of successful use for bitumen emulsion applications around the world. These dispersions offer exceptional performance and durability, making them an excellent choice for sustainable asphalt solutions.
 
Butonal products are produced at Chattanooga’s Amnicola Drive facility. Butonal NX 4190 and Butonal NS 198 are cationic grades, while Butonal NX 1129 and Butonal NS 175 are anionic grades offering both charges for a wide range of customer needs and applications. BASF offers each grade for a wide range of application needs. Latex dispersions work well in combination with asphalt emulsions being able to be milled, making the emulsions. Including these dispersions enhances the product’s performance.  

Amnicola site hosted tours for AEMA LDT members and LEAP participants, tour members included some of our customers as well and industry stakeholders. Thank you Brittany Davis, Abigail Orr, Bill Kirk and Arlis Kadrmas that accompanied/led the tours. Arlis Kadrmas also gave a presentation on operations and handling Asphalt emulsions, helping with continued support to the industry through education and building brand awareness for BASF and our products.


The two most widely used techniques for asphalt emulsion application are chip seals and micro surfacing. Chip sealing involves the application of a thin layer of latex modified asphalt emulsion on the road's surface. This step is followed by placing small aggregate chips, which are then rolled to ensure maximum adherence to the asphalt. The excess stone is swept from the surface to leave a clean and smooth finish. The chip-sealing process offers several benefits: 

  • It forms a protective barrier that shields the pavement from the damaging effects of sun and water. This is particularly important in areas with extreme weather conditions, where the road surface is prone to cracking and other forms of damage.
  • Chip sealing increases skid resistance, providing better traction for vehicles and reducing the risk of accidents, especially in wet or icy conditions.
  • It fills small cracks and other surface defects, preventing them from expanding and becoming more significant.

 
“The asphalt emulsion and BASF’s latex polymer are the glue that holds those chips on the road,” said Arlis Kadrmas, BASF Expert Technical Specialist. Kadrmas said chip seals are a sacrificial layer that prevents moisture and sun damage from permeating the pavement. These products last up to eight years on the pavement. Emulsions are also sustainable as there are little to no solvents, such as kerosene or diesel fuels, involved.
 
The other primary use of the BASF’s latexes and asphalt emulsions is micro surfacing. Micro-surfacing is again a very thin application within the pavement preservation group, but it differs from chip seals because it uses a graded aggregate. Micro-surfacing is an innovative way of paving roads that involves a cold-application process. To create a long-lasting wearing surface, specialized equipment combines polymer-modified asphalt emulsion, mineral aggregate, water, and additives. This mixture is then uniformly spread over a properly prepared surface. The asphalt emulsion breaks onto the pavement surface, and when the mixture cures by water loss, it bonds to the existing pavement to create a durable surface.
 
Pavement preservation usually occurs during certain times of the year, primarily from April through October, according to Angela Young, BASF Market Segment Manager. During the “off-season,” Young said the BASF team is busy testing products and methods for the coming season. These preparations include showcasing asphalt portfolio product performance at industry trade shows. The team demonstrates to state agencies that preserving roads in repairable shape is possible and cost-effective. 
 
“Keeping the roads in really good shape allows agencies to use the taxpayer money wisely,” Young said. “So, for this small amount of polymer, it gives you great benefits that preserve pavement life. That's what these products do.” Young said agencies are far more likely to fix roads with these techniques rather than spending additional funds to reconstruct roads completely. 
 
Kadrmas said it's important to keep the benefits of pavement preservation at the forefront for agencies, so they'll keep them in their toolbox for use. The team is involved with several associations such as the Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association (AEMA), Asphalt Institute, International Slurry Surfacing Associating (ISSA), Southeastern Asphalt User/Producer Group (SEAUPG) and FP2 to provide data and research for product performance. BASF sponsors the upcoming ISSA Slurry Systems Workshop in January and the PPRA Annual AEMA-ARRA-ISSA Annual Meeting in February. In addition to working closely with the associations, the asphalt portfolio team works closely with other BASF units to ensure our products are compatible with other products in the customer's formula. Because asphalt formulations are variable, BASF’s experienced sales and marketing teams can provide product expertise and formulation assistance.
 
“The consistency in products from our plant is also a big factor in alleviating headaches for the customer,” Young said. “Our customers know the quality of the products will be there, which is a huge asset in a seasonal industry like this.” Kadrmas said the team actively listens to customers’ needs in making roads last longer. He said the education process is almost never-ending to ensure people understand why these products are used, why they're performing well, and why they can help save them money.
 
“All of this goes down to listening to the customers, and the feedback on what they need to get these processes to last longer in the field, perform better, basically just improving the life of the road and the product that goes down on the road make it perform better,” Kadrmas said.
 
Contact BASF to learn more about the Asphalt Portfolio.

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