The words asphalt and bitumen are often mistakenly used to define the same thing. Asphalt is a composite of aggregates, sand, and bitumen; where bitumen acts as a liquid binding material that holds asphalt together. To make things simple, we can relatively say asphalt is concrete (mixture) while bitumen is cement (binder) for pavements. A pavement surface sealed only with bitumen is also common though, which is done by setting up a layer of bitumen and topping it with aggregates. This process is then repeated to create a two coated seal.

So, what are the other differences between Bitumen and Asphalt?

Differences between Asphalt and Bitumen

Followings are the differences between bitumen and asphalt.

AsphaltBitumen
Asphalt pavements are durable; with a layer depth of 25-40 mm and life span of 20+ years. Bitumen pavements are less durable; with a layer depth of 10-20 mm and lifespan of 5-10 years.
Surface made of asphalt is smoother and more skid-resistant, ensuring the driver’s safety and minimal noise. The loose fragments on bitumen pavements make the driving experience noisier and can wear down tires, consequently causing safety issues.
Reduced friction between tire and car; meaning better fuel economy and minimization of carbon dioxide emission. Higher frictional resistance of a bitumen pavement means less efficiency in energy utilization.
Asphalt is an impermeable material, thus the pavements do not leach. Therefore, they have a lesser chance of infiltrating and polluting the groundwater Exposure to bitumen leaching may cause deterioration of soil and groundwater quality.
Less sensitive to temperature compared to bitumen pavements. Negative impacts are seen only in extremely high or low temperature. Pavements are susceptible to high temperature, which can make it slick and soft.
Installation is comparatively costlier. Cheap to install compared to asphalt.
Cost effective. An asphalt surface doesn’t require regular maintenance like bitumen surface, rather a routine check periodically is enough. They require regular maintenance, especially when resurfacing a pavement with greater traffic volume. So not cost effective in the long run.
 

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