Real Asphalt Facts
The first recorded use of asphalt used as road-building material in Babylon. Back then,
the ancient Greeks were also familiar with asphalt. The word asphalt originates
from the Greek "asphaltos," meaning "secure." The Romans also
used it to seal their reservoirs, baths and aqueducts
Europeans exploring the New World discovered many natural deposits of asphalt.
Sir Walter Raleigh described a "plain" (or lake) of asphalt near the
island of Trinidad, close to Venezuela. He used it for the re-caulking of his
Thomas Telford built 900+ miles of roads in Scotland, perfecting the method of
building roads using broken stones. His contemporary, John Loudon McAdam, used
broken stone joined to create a hard surface to build a Scottish turnpike.
Later, to eliminate dust and maintenance, builders used hot tar to join the
broken stones together, producing "tarmacadam" pavements.
Belgian chemist Edmund J. DeSmedt
laid the first actual asphalt pavement in the U.S. in Newark, N.J. DeSmedt also paved Pennsylvania Avenue in
Washington, D.C. – using 54,000 square yards of sheet asphalt from the Trinidad
Lake. The Cummer Company established the first central hot mix production
facilities in the U.S. The very first asphalt patent was filed by Nathan B.
Abbott of Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1871.
Frederick J. Warren filed a patent for "Bitulithic" pavement, a
combination of bitumen and aggregate ("bitu" from "bitumen"
and "lithic" from "lithos," this is a Greek word for rock).
The very first modern asphalt facility was constructed in 1901 by Warren
Brothers in East Cambridge, Mass.
The production of refined petroleum asphalt outstripped the use of natural
asphalt. As cars grew in popularity, the demand for more roads led to
innovations in both producing and laying asphalt. The first steps toward mechanization
included drum mixers. Portland cement
concrete mechanical spreaders was used for the first machine-laid asphalt.
During World War II, asphalt technology improved greatly, spurred by a need of
military airplanes for surfaces that could stand up to heavier loads.
The National Bituminous Concrete Association (forerunner of the National
Asphalt Pavement Association or NAPA) was created. One of the very first
activities: a Quality Improvement Program, which sponsored asphalt testing at
universities and at private testing labs.
Congress passed the Interstate
Highways Act, allotting $51,000,000,000 to the states for new road
construction. Contractors needed better and bigger equipment. Innovations since then have included
electronic leveling controls, extra-wide finishers paving two lanes at once and
vibratory steel-wheel rollers.
The national energy crisis created the need for conservation of natural
resources. Since that time, a huge amount of recycled asphalt has been included
in mixes. Today, asphalt pavement is America's most recycled material having more
than 70 million metric tons of asphalt paving material is recycled each year.
NAPA created the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn
University, Alabama, providing a centralized, systematic approach to asphalt
research. NCAT recently opened a brand new research center and test track and
is now the world's leading institution for asphalt pavement research.
The EPA announced that asphalt plants are not on its list of industries
considered major sources of hazardous air pollutants.
Approximately 330,000 people in the U.S. are employed by the asphalt
Rubber from old tires, roofing shingles and older asphalt roads can be
recycled and used again in making asphalt pavement.
You can find natural deposits of asphalt in many lakes.
Asphalt pavement was first introduced in America during the year of 1870.
80% of old asphalt pavement that is removed each year is re-used.
Asphalt pavement is the most recycled (re-used) product in America - more than
newspaper, aluminum cans, or glass.