Journal article

Thermal and dynamic mechanical properties of blends of bitumen with metallocene catalyzed polyolefins

A high penetration grade bitumen has been blended with up to 50 wt% of two different grades of metallocene catalyzed linear low density polyethylene (m-LLDPE) in order to investigate the potential of these and similar copolymers as a substitute for styrene butadiene styrene triblock copolymers in polymer-modified bitumens (PMB). A continuous polymer-rich phase was observed at m-LLDPE contents as low as 5-10 wt%, along with a significant decrease in the effective glass transition temperature of the PMBs with increasing polymer concentration, suggesting benefits for low temperature flexibility. The m-LLDPE-based PMBs also showed relatively low dynamic shear viscosities up to high polymer contents in the range of temperature and shear rate corresponding to typical PMB processing conditions. However, the presence of bitumen in the m-LLDPE-rich phase led to a significant reduction in the melting points of the m-LLDPE, and softening of the PMBs at temperatures as low as 40-50 degrees C, depending on the composition and the melting point of the pure polymer. PMBs based on the m-LLDPE with the higher melting point remained fully elastic in this temperature range, but at the expense of increased crystallinity and a higher glass transition temperature, which limit improvements in low temperature flexibility. On the other hand, the potentially broad composition and property windows associated with m-LLDPEs suggest considerable scope for the fine tuning of PMB properties by using combinations of different m-LLDPEs and/or other polyolefins as a means to optimize performance.


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