Anda di halaman 1dari 5

Softening Point of Bitumen

Introduction:
Bitumens are viscoelastic materials without sharply defined melting points; they gradually
become softer and less viscous as the temperature rises. For this reason, softening points must be
determined by an arbitrary and closely defined method if results are to be reproducible.
The softening point is useful in the classification of bitumens, as one element in establishing the
uniformity of shipments or sources of supply, and is indicative of the tendency of the material to
flow at elevated temperatures encountered in service.
Being very simple in concept and equipment, the Ring-and-Ball Test has remained a valuable
consistency test for control in refining operations, particularly in the production of air-blown
bitumens. It is also an indirect measure of viscosity or, rather, the temperature at which a given
viscosity is evident. The softening point value has particular significance for materials which are
to be used as thick films, such as joint and crack fillers and roofing materials. A high softening
point ensures that they will not flow in service. For a bitumen of a given penetration (determined
at 250C), the higher the softening point the lower the temperature sensitivity.
This test is done to determine the softening point of asphaltic bitumen and fluxed native asphalt,
road tar, coal tar pitch and blown type bitumen as per ASTM 1988. The principle behind this test
is that softening point is the temperature at which the substance attains a particular degree of
softening under specified condition of the test.
Objectives:

Objective of this test is to determine the softening point of bitumen in the range from
300C to 1570C using ring-and-ball apparatus.

Apparatus:
The following apparatus are required.
1) Rings Two square-shouldered brass rings conforming to the dimensions shown in
Figure 1 (a).
2) Pouring Plate A flat, smooth, brass plate approximately 50 by 75 mm (2 by 3 in.).
3) Balls Two steel balls, 9.5 mm (3/8 in.) in diameter, each having a mass of 3.50 0.05 g.
4) Ball-Centering Guides Two brass guides for centering the steel balls, one for each ring,
conforming to the general shape and dimensions shown in Figure 1 (b).
5) Bath A glass vessel, capable of being heated, not less than 85 mm in inside diameter and
not less than 120 mm in depth from the bottom of the flare.
6) Ring Holder and Assembly A brass holder designed to support the two rings in a
horizontal position, conforming to the shape and dimensions shown in Figure 1 (c),
supported in the assembly illustrated in Figure 1 (d). The bottom of the shouldered rings
in the ring holder shall be 25 mm (1.0 in.) above the upper surface of the bottom plate,
and the lower surface of the bottom plate shall be 166.3 mm from the bottom of the bath.
7) Thermometers:
An ASTM Low Softening Point Thermometer, having a range from -2 to +80 0C or 30 to
1800F, and conforming to the requirements for Thermometer 15C of 15F as prescribed in
Specification E 1.
An ASTM High Softening Point Thermometer, having a range from 30 to 200 0C or 85 to

3920F, and conforming to the requirements for Thermometer 16C of 16F as prescribed in
Specification E 1.
The appropriate thermometer shall be suspended in the assembly as shown in Figure 1 (d)
so that the bottom of the bulb is level with the bottom of the rings and within 13 mm (0.5
in.) of the rings, but not touching them or the ring holder. Substitution of other
thermometers shall not be permitted.

Figure 1 Shoulder Ring, Ball-Centering Guide, Ring Holder and Assembly of Apparatus
Showing Two Rings.
Reagents and Materials
1) Bath liquids
Freshly Boiled Distilled Water
USP Glycerin

Note Caution: Glycerin has a flash point of 160 0C (3200F) in accordance with Test Method
D 92. Ethylene Glycol with a boiling point between 195 and 1970C (383 and 3870F).
2) Release Agents
To prevent adhesion of bitumen to the pouring plate when casting disks, the surface of the
brass pouring plate may be thinly coated just before use with silicone oil or grease a mixture
of glycerin and dextrin, talc or china clay.
Preparation of Test specimen
1) The test was not started, unless it was planned to complete preparation and testing of all
asphalt specimens within 6 hours.
2) The bitumen sample was heated with care, stirring frequently to prevent local
overheating, until it had became sufficiently fluid to pour. The sample was carefully stirred to
avoid incorporation of air bubbles in the sample.
3) No more than 2 hours were taken to heat an asphalt sample to its pouring temperature, in
no case shall this be more than 1100C (2000F) above the expected softening point of the
asphalt.
4) If the test was to be repeated later, this sample was not allowed to reheat and a fresh
sample was used in a clean container to prepare new test specimens.
5) The two brass rings were heated (but not the pouring plate) to the approximate pouring
temperature, and placed them on the pouring plate treated with one of the release agents.
6) A slight excess of the heated bitumen was poured into each ring, and then the specimens
were allowed to cool in ambient air for at least 30 min.
7) For materials that were soft at room temperature, the specimens were cooled for at least
30 min at an air temperature at least 100C (180F) below the expected softening point.
8) From the time the specimen disks were poured, no more than 240 min shall be allowed to
elapse before completion of the test.
9) When the specimens had cooled, the excess bitumen were cut away cleanly with a
slightly heated knife or spatula, so that each disk was flushed and leveled with the top of it's
ring.
Procedure:
1) Suitable bath liquids and thermometers appropriate for the expected softening point were
selected. For referee purposes, all softening points up to 80 0C (1760F) shall be determined
in a water bath and all softening above 80 0C (1760F) shall be determined in a glycerin
bath.
2) The apparatus in the laboratory hood were assembled with the specimen rings, ballcentering guides, and thermometer in position.
3) The bath was filled so that the liquid depth will be 105 3 mm (41/8 1/8 in.) with the
apparatus in place. (If using ethylene glycol, make sure the hood exhaust fan is turned on
and operating properly to remove toxic vapors.)
4) Using forceps, the two steel balls were placed in the bottom of the bath so they would
reached the same starting temperature as the rest of the assembly.
5) The bath was placed in ice water, if necessary, or gently heated to established and
maintained the proper starting bath temperature for 15 min with the apparatus in place.

Care was taken not to contaminate the bath liquid.


6) Again using forceps, a ball from the bottom of the bath was placed in each ball-centering
guide.
7) The bath was hearted from below so that the temperature indicated by the thermometer
rose at a uniform rate of 50C (90F) / min. The bath was protected from drafts, using
shields if necessary. (Do not average the rate of temperature rise over the test period.) The
maximum permissible variation for any 1-min period after the first 3 min shall be 0.5 0C
(61.00F).
8) Any test in which the rate of temperature rose did not not fall within the above limits
were rejected.
9) For each ring and ball the temperature indicated by the thermometer at the instant the
bitumen surrounding the ball touches the bottom plate was recorded.
10) No correction for the emergent stem of the thermometer was made.
11) If the difference between the two temperatures were exceeded 10 C (20 F), the test was
repeated.
Observation:

Observations are as follows;

When the instant the bitumen surrounding the ball touches the bottom plate,
First temperature reading

= 40.60 C

Second temperature reading

= 410 C

Calculations and result:

Calculate the average reading as a softening point of tested bitumen sample.

Specimen Calculation:

The difference between the two temperatures = 410 40.60 C


= 0.40 C < 10 C
Hence Ok.

The softening point of Bitumen = 40.60 + 410 = 40.80 C


2

Discussion:
1) Discuss the importance of softening point test for road construction.
Bituminous materials do not have a definite melting point as water. When temperature rises
these materials slowly change from brittle or very thick and slow flowing materials to softer
and less viscose liquids. Softening point test characterized this behavior of the bituminous
material.
This test is a valuable consistency test for control refining operations particularly in the
production of air-blown bitumens. Production of bitumen of high softening points with good
stability and handing characteristics is a major challenge in asphalt industry. It is also an
indirect measure of viscosity or the temperature at which a given viscosity is evident. The
softening point value is very significant for materials which are to be used as thick films such
as joints and crack fillers and roofing materials.
A high softening point ensures that they will not flow during service life of the pavements.
Particularly on tropical conditions, bitumen would not bleed to the surface of the pavement if
correct bitumen of appropriate softening point were used. Bleeding would coursed many
durability problems in pavements and it also course difficulties to the moving vehicles.
2) What are the practical strategies you can used to maintain special test conditions?