An Overview of Sulfur-Extended Asphalt Usage

    Published: Jan 1980

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    Interest in the use of sulfur in highway pavement construction has been stimulated by unpredictable increases in cost and by uncertainty as to the future availability of asphalt cement as a result of the current “energy squeeze”. As a consequence, bid prices for asphalt cement, which have almost tripled over the past three years, are expected to rise even more.

    Recent studies and experimental field tests have shown that sulfur can, under certain circumstances, replace as much as 35 volume percent of the asphalt cement used in asphaltic concrete mixes. The unique properties of sulfur, both alone and when blended with asphalt, have also shown potential for use in recycling old bituminous pavements.

    This paper attempts to put into perspective the state of the art in design, preparation, placement, and performance evaluation of sulfur-extended asphalt (SEA) pavement mixtures. Various methods of binder preparation are discussed and, where possible, compared on the basis of their physical and engineering properties. The status of three domestic experimental field trials utilizing these methods is reviewed. The potential use of SEA binder to recycle old bituminous pavements is also presented.

    Theoretical in-service performance predictions of SEA pavement materials are compared with conventional asphalt cement on the basis of their rutting potential, resistance to cracking, slope variance, and serviceability index. Finally, recommendations for future work are discussed.


    sulfur, asphalt, sulfur-extended asphalt, asphalt concrete, rutting, cracking, slope variance, serviceability index, sulfur substitution ratio

    Author Information:

    McBee, WC
    Metallurgist and research chemist, Boulder City Engineering Laboratory, Boulder City, Nev.

    Sullivan, TA
    Metallurgist and research chemist, Boulder City Engineering Laboratory, Boulder City, Nev.

    Saylak, D
    Professor civil engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Tex.

    Committee/Subcommittee: D04.40

    DOI: 10.1520/STP38364S

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