The History of Modified Bitumen Development


Bitumen has been known as a protective and binding material for the last 5000 years. The first records are come from Entre Rios, Iran and northwestern India. Egyptians used bitumen in construction and for protection from moisture.

It is still not exactly clear why it took so long to go from from extensive bitumen usage in the Ancient times to worldwide use. Even the Romans did not use it properly for road construction.

Certain progress came only in 1712, when d’Eyrinys used small parts of natural bitumen in combination with rocks. The next 150 years did not bring any news on bitumen in road construction. The construction material came into use only after perfection of oil refining. In 1881, De Smedt obtained a patent for the so called “oxidized asphalt” produced by venting of hot bitumen with air.

Development of the automobile industry has promoted the processes of road construction. This caused increased demand for bitumen and other oil products. However, strangely enough, improvement of “black gold” refinery technologies did not result in better bitumen quality, although it was required by the growing traffic loads.

Hence the decision to improve binder quality by introduction of special additives. At that time there was already some experience of bitumen application with plastic materials as roof coat.

Focused research into improvement of road bitumen started in the beginning of the last century. The following types of polymers came in sight of scientists: РЕ, ЕМА, SBS and EVA. Testing of bitumens modified with these polymers took several years. Eventually, the conclusion was made that SBS polymer in pure form or in combination with other additives shows the best results.

Specialized development of polymer-modified bitumens improvements began only in the 1970s. The results currently achieved allow to tackle such road construction issues as brittleness in winter time, washing out, low traffic load durability and premature aging.