Asphalt seems to be almost as old as the hills. It is not altogether that old, relatively speaking, with its invention marked in the mid-1800s in France. It was not until 1870 that the first conception of asphalt, hot mix asphalt, came to be in the United States. Today, you can find different types of this blacktop mixture, such as high-performance cold mix, porous, and warm mix. With their similarities, how would one choose between warm mix asphalt vs. hot mix asphalt?
Hot Mix Asphalt
Hot mix asphalt is the original asphalt. It is a mixture of gravel held together with bitumen, a byproduct of petroleum. In other words, asphalt is refined crude oil plus gravel. Hot mix asphalt production happens at a temperature between 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
It has been so incredibly effective at doing its job as pavement that it is the go-to product for roads, trails, driveways, and parking lots, particularly in commercial settings. Its cost is relatively low, and it is very quiet for any vehicle to travel upon when in good condition. Although it does break down over time, it will still last for several decades with diligent, scheduled maintenance.
Warm Mix Asphalt
If hot mix asphalt works so well, why the need for warm mix asphalt? According to a paper, “The goal of using WMA is to produce quality dense asphalt mixtures at lower temperatures.” Warm mix asphalt production requires a temperature about 100 degrees lower than hot mix asphalt and can withstand colder weather than HMA during installation. It also produces less fumes, those being polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions.
Overall, warm mix asphalt benefits include the following:
- Lower cost to produce and transport
- Longer travel capability
- More flexible installation season
- Energy and cost savings for installation
- Greater compaction
- Healthier working conditions/lower fumes and lower temperature
All of these benefits sound great compared to hot mix asphalt, but how does it ultimately perform? Considering that the first production of WMA was in the 1950s-1960s in Europe to America, there is still time to see its full impact.
Which Is Right for Your Construction Project?
Warm mix asphalt is a great choice if you aim to reduce toxic fumes and install pavement when the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot mix asphalt is an all-around dependable pavement. Which is right for your construction project? Reliable Contracting is here to help in Maryland!
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