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How is Asphalt Made?

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Asphalt is one of the most commonly used paving materials in the world with over 400 million tons produced annually in the U.S. alone, according to the National Asphalt Paving Association. It is also the most recycled paving material (known as RAP) with one hundred percent of the recovered material returned to the paving cycle when recovered from the previous applications. While Asphalt is a well-known and versatile material, understanding how this material is produced can help make your project a success.

Petroleum asphalt is the most used type employed in paving applications. Produced as a byproduct of the petroleum refining process, this thick, heavy, viscous fluid is comprised of various aromatic compounds, asphaltenes, and saturated hydrocarbons and form the binder component of modern paving applications. This binder is then combined with various sizes of mechanically sorted and crushed aggregates, graded sand mixes, stone dust as well as any desired or required chemical components as specified for the intended project. Recycled material can be and is often used in place of newer aggregates, although some applications will require the use of both depending on the strength required and paving purpose. 

Once the non-binder added mix has been combined, it is then heat dried to remove any excess moisture and to allow it to bind completely with the binder. Once this drying process is complete, the binder is added to the aggregate composite via a mechanical mixer and this final material is then loaded on to vehicles for delivery to the project site. In addition to the production of virgin material or a plant produced, combined RAP product, another process is available, depending on project requirements, in which the RAP is hot mixed on site for immediate reuse. 

Regardless of your project size, employing asphalt as a paving material is the optimal economic and environmental choice for your specific application. For residential, commercial or industrial applications, allow the specialists at Dykes Paving to show you how you can get the most benefit from this type of paving material and how it can contribute to your project’s overall success.