Application of Low Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to evaluate asphalt binder viscosity in recycled mixes

Ilaria Menapace, Lorena Garcia Cucalon, Fawaz Kaseer, Eyad Masad, Amy Epps Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The newly developed method to estimate asphalt viscosity and aging trends using Low Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (LF-NMR) was applied to characterize the effect of incorporating recycled materials and recycling agents in asphalt mix samples. The measurements were conducted on asphalt mix samples prepared with different binders: (1) a virgin binder, (2) a recycled binder from Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP), (3) a blend of virgin and RAP binder (recycled blend) and (4) a rejuvenated blend that consists of the recycled blend with the addition of a recycling agent (tall oil). The LF-NMR measurements were performed at room (25 °C) and magnet (36.4 °C) temperatures. The Relative Hydrogen Index (RHI) obtained from LF-NMR captured the expected binder viscosity trends for the asphalt mix samples prepared with each of the different binders. The viscosity of the binders and blends was estimated from Dynamic Shear Rheometer (DSR) measurements. The relationship between dynamic viscosity and RHI agreed with previous findings. The samples prepared with the rejuvenated blend had lower viscosity and higher RHI than the recycled blend, indicating that the tall oil was effective in lowering its viscosity. Small discrepancies in the trends of the rejuvenated blend as compared to the virgin binder were attributed to their similar detectable hydrogen content, obtained in the rejuvenated blend with the addition of tall oil, but different oxidation state, molecular distribution and steric hindrance. This indicates that the LF-NMR method is more influenced by the chemistry of the asphalt binders rather than their viscosity. The asphalt mix samples with virgin and rejuvenated binders were also subjected to an aging treatment at 70 °C for a month. A significant decrease of the RHI was detected for the samples prepared with rejuvenated binder whereas no significant change was detected for those prepared with virgin binders, which indicates that rejuvenated binders were more susceptible to additional aging that resulted in increased viscosity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-736
Number of pages12
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2018



  • Aging
  • Asphalt binder
  • Low Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (LF-NMR)
  • Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP)
  • Recycled binder
  • Rejuvenation
  • Relative Hydrogen Index (RHI)
  • Viscosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)

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