Impact of maltene and asphaltene fraction on mechanical behavior and microstructure of bitumen

B. Hofko, L. Eberhardsteiner, J. Füssl, H. Grothe, F. Handle, M. Hospodka, D. Grossegger, S. N. Nahar, A. J.M. Schmets, A. Scarpas

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137 Scopus citations


As a widely accepted concept, bitumen consists of four fractions that can be distinguished by their polarity. Highly polar asphaltene micelles are dispersed in a viscous phase of saturates, aromatics and resins (maltene phase). Different concentrations of asphaltenes in the bitumen result in a range of mechanical response properties. In an interdisciplinary study the impact of the maltene phase and asphaltenes on the linear viscoelastic behavior and the microstructure of bitumen were analyzed by creep recovery testing in a DSR and by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Therefore, bitumen was separated into the maltene and asphaltene fractions and artificial bitumen samples with different, pre-defined asphaltene concentrations were produced and investigated. It was found that the artificially produced, precipitated bitumen samples can be regarded as a representative, bitumen-like material in terms of mechanical behavior and microstructure. Asphaltenes play an important role in the typical viscoelastic behavior of bitumen being mainly responsible for stiffness and elasticity. Also, their concentration appears to be correlated to the occurrence and shape of the bee-like inclusions which can be typically observed by AFM.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)829-841
Number of pages13
JournalMaterials and Structures/Materiaux et Constructions
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • AFM
  • Asphaltene
  • Bitumen composition
  • DSR
  • Maltene
  • Microstructure


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