Observation of asphalt binder microstructure with ESEM
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The observation of asphalt binder with the environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) has shown the potential to observe asphalt binder microstructure and its evolution with binder aging. A procedure for the induction and identification of the microstructure in asphalt binder was established in this study and included sample preparation and observation parameters. A suitable heat-sampling asphalt binder sample preparation method was determined for the test and several stainless steel and Teflon sample moulds developed, finding that stainless steel was the preferable material. The magnification and ESEM settings conducive to observing the 3D microstructure were determined through a number of observations to be 1000×, although other magnifications could be considered. Both straight run binder (PG 58-28) and an air blown oxidised binder were analysed; their structures being compared for their relative size, abundance and other characteristics, showing a clear evolution in the fibril microstructure. The microstructure took longer to appear for the oxidised binder. It was confirmed that the fibril microstructure corresponded to actual characteristics in the asphalt binder. Additionally, a 'bee' micelle structure was found as a transitional structure in ESEM observation. The test methods in this study will be used for more comprehensive analysis of asphalt binder microstructure.
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