Polymer modification of bitumen: Advances and challenges Academic Article uri icon


  • Advances and challenges in the field of bitumen polymer modification for road construction during the last 40 years are reviewed in this paper. The history of bitumen polymer modification is described chronologically. Some popular plastomers and thermoplastic elastomers in bitumen modification are discussed regarding their advantages and disadvantages, including polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), ethylene-butyl acrylate (EBA), styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS), styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS) and styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene (SEBS). Although these polymers all improve bitumen properties to some extent, there are still some drawbacks limiting the future development of bitumen polymer modification, such as high cost, low ageing resistance and poor storage stability of polymer modified bitumen (PMB). Researchers attempted various ways to remove these drawbacks. Some technical developments for removing drawbacks are reviewed in this paper, including saturation, sulfur vulcanization, adding antioxidants, using hydrophobic clay minerals, functionalization and application of reactive polymers. The future development of polymers for bitumen modification is analyzed as well. Since it is currently challenging to perfectly achieve all expected PMB properties at the same time, some compromised recommendations are given in this paper, among which greatly enhancing the properties with an acceptably high cost, significantly reducing the cost with relatively poor properties and their combinations. Functionalization is emphasized as a promising way to enhance the properties of currently used polymers and develop new-type polymer modifiers with much greater success in the future. It is also recommended that future research on bitumen polymer modification focuses more on function development towards enhancing: Adhesion with aggregates, long-term performance and recyclability. 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 9.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhu, J., Birgisson, B., & Kringos, N.

citation count

  • 503

complete list of authors

  • Zhu, Jiqing||Birgisson, Bj√∂rn||Kringos, Niki

publication date

  • May 2014