Bitumen surface under a fluorescence microscope

Bitumen ensures our mobility in asphalt pavement and keeps our houses dry as a sealant. This laboratory researches methods for describing the quality of bitumen and for the development of additives to optimize product properties.

Bitumen is a very complex petroleum derivative. As an organic product, like all hydrocarbons it is subject to ageing processes due to weather-related oxidation, which leads to long-term changes in its properties and composition and thus to challenges in terms of its long-term service life and recyclability.

A photo of a dynamic rheometer for mechanical testing and quality control of bitumen in front of a laboratory background

The main aim of this CD laboratory is therefore to gain a fundamental understanding of the interplay between the composition, structure and mechanical behavior of bitumen and to develop a comprehensive chemo-mechanical analysis tool based on this. To this end, samples of different origins are examined using a wide range of microscopic, spectroscopic and (micro)-mechanical analysis methods. In addition, an efficient ageing simulation for bitumen is to be developed at laboratory level, which achieves accelerated oxidation under realistic conditions in terms of temperature and pressure and thus quantifies the influence of UV radiation, moisture and so-called reactive oxygen species (ROS). This analysis tool can also be used to examine the mode of action and effectiveness of additives to inhibit oxidation or improve material improvement.

The aim is to increase the limited service life of bitumen due to ageing effects and to optimize its properties in a targeted manner.