ASPHALTopics - An Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council (OAPC) Publication
Around the world, roadbuilders are adding fibres to asphalt mixes in a bid to improve asphalt pavement strength and durability, and to forestall the emergence of cracking, rutting, and shoving. In doing so, these contractors and their clients are attempting to lower the cost of maintaining roads by reducing annual repairs and ensuring that roadways achieve their planned lifespans before replacements are necessary.
Although the practice of using fibre-enhanced mixes is relatively new, the technique of adding fibres to asphalt dates back thousands of years. According to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) report “Fiber Additives in Asphalt Mixtures”, the earliest use of fibres in asphalt was the use of straw in ancient Egyptian building specifications.
In the road construction industry, paving companies added asbestos fibres to asphalt pavement from the 1920s until the 1960s, when the health risks associated with asbestos became known. Cotton fibres were used in the 1930s, but fell out of favour when it was discovered they tended to degrade over time. Today, a number of different types of fibres are being used to enhance asphalt mixes.