Asphalt Industry Research Consortium (AIRC)

The Asphalt Industry Research Consortium (AIRC) was designed to be a well-defined commercial- and application-based program to develop a fundamental understanding of asphalt products. The work plan is designed considering the latest trends in the industry, with various focus areas running in parallel, so that partners can choose the appropriate focus area pertinent to their business needs.

In 2015 WRI took a bold step by inviting industry partners to come together, under AIRC, to fingerprint asphalt binder through a mix of new methods, some of which were the WRI developed SAR-AD, and conventional methods to explore underlying chemistry-related reasons for binder behavior. These partners were suppliers, contractors, traders, and road agencies. From this work, a multi-dimensional approach was developed which showed how the chemistry, composition, waxes, molecular weight, crude oil processing, and functional groups had an impact on asphalt thermal and rheological properties over the in-service temperature range experienced by asphalt (chemo-mechanical). Although not perfect capturing every asphalt performance parameter, many underlying reasons for poor relaxation, high cracking potential, and poor low temperature properties were unlocked. This first foray in creating a multi-dimensional understanding of asphalt was officially termed Iteration-one (I-1). Based upon understanding gained in I-1—and at the direction of consortium members—Iteration-two (I-2) was launched which had a major focus on aging, and polymer compatibility and performance. In I-2 tests such as the SAR-AD, molecular weight, asphalt binder cracking device, asphaltene flocculation titrimeter, advanced rheology, storage stability and fluorescence spectroscopy were used to demonstrate polymer performance.

With louder calls for decarbonization, Iteration-three (I-3) was officially launched in 2023 to address three main areas of focus determined through an industry survey: 1) Alternative Binders, 2) RAP and Recycling Agents, and 3) Polymer modification. Each area of focus is designed to provide benchmarking of products based upon the multi-dimensional chemo-mechanical frameworks developed by WRI, as well as exploring new methods to better understand some of the newer materials and products coming to market. To help make comparisons between the different areas of focus, and different products, Ergon has graciously supplied a common base binder for the consortium, and to consortium members, to provide a baseline.

If you are looking to further understand, benchmark as well as gain information to improve and market your asphalt products, AIRC is the perfect place to do so! There is still time to join I-3!

For more information, contact:

Yogesh Kumbargeri, PhD
Lead Engineer
(307) 721-2203
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Western Research Institute
3474 N. 3rd Street
Laramie, WY 82072

(307) 721-2011
(888) 463-6974 or (888) Info-WRI

You can contact WRI directly by phone (8 a.m. – 5 p.m. MST, Monday-Friday) at the numbers above.
Also, you are welcome to contact the appropriate WRI representative directly.


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