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Frontiers of Structural and Civil Engineering >> 2021, Volume 15, Issue 5 doi: 10.1007/s11709-021-0761-5

Effect of styrene-butadiene-styrene copolymer on the aging resistance of asphalt: An atomistic understanding from reactive molecular dynamics simulations

1. School of Transportation, Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China;2. National Demonstration Center for Experimental Road and Traffic Engineering Education, Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China;1. School of Transportation, Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China;3. College of Engineering, Tibet University, Lhasa 850000, China;4. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08854, USA

Received: 2021-04-08 Accepted: 2021-10-29 Available online: 2021-10-15

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To reveal the potential influence of styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) polymer modification on the anti-aging performance of asphalt, and its mechanism, we explored the aging characteristics of base asphalt and SBS-modified asphalt by reaction force field (ReaxFF) and classical molecular dynamics simulations. The results illustrate that the SBS asphalt is more susceptible to oxidative aging than the base asphalt under oxygen-deficient conditions due to the presence of unsaturated C=C bonds in the SBS polymer. In the case of sufficient oxygen, the SBS polymer inhibits the oxidation of asphalt by restraining the diffusion of asphalt molecules. Compared with the base asphalt, the SBS asphalt exhibits a higher degree of oxidation at the early stage of pavement service and a lower degree of oxidation in the long run. In addition, SBS polymer degrades into small blocks during aging, thus counteracting the hardening of aged asphalt and partially restoring its low-temperature cracking resistance.

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