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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Foamed asphalt typically relies on water as a foaming agent because water becomes gaseous at elevated temperatures, generating numerous tiny bubbles in the asphalt and causing spontaneous foaming. In this study, ethanol was used as a potential alternative to water as a foaming agent. Ethanol is expected to be a physical blowing agent in the same manner as water, except it requires less energy to foam due to its 78 °C boiling point. This study compares the performance of water and ethanol as foaming agents through the measurements of rotational viscosity, the reduction in temperature during foaming, and volatile loss. The ethanol-foamed asphalt binders were prepared at 80 °C and 100 °C, while the water-foamed asphalt binders were prepared at 100 °C and 120 °C. Additionally, the rolling thin film oven (RTFO) was used to generate short-term aging of the foamed asphalt binders. A rotational viscometer was used to determine the viscosity of the asphalt binders at 80 °C, 100 °C, 120 °C, 140 °C, and 160 °C. Overall, ethanol can function in the same manner as water but requires less energy to foam. It is proven based on the smaller drop in temperature of the asphalt binder foamed using ethanol compared with that prepared with water. This is due to the lower latent heat capacity of ethanol, which requires less energy to vaporize compared with water. Through the rotational viscometer test, ethanol performs better in lowering the viscosity of asphalt binders, which is essential in allowing production processes at low temperatures, as well as a better workability and aggregate coating. Ethanol can be expelled from the foamed asphalt binders at a higher rate due to its lower boiling point and latent heat.

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© 2016 Periodical Offices of Chang'an University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Owner. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering (English Edition)


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