Materials and Structures

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 829–841 | Cite as

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

  • B. HofkoEmail author
  • L. Eberhardsteiner
  • J. Füssl
  • H. Grothe
  • F. Handle
  • M. Hospodka
  • D. Grossegger
  • S. N. Nahar
  • A. J. M. Schmets
  • A. Scarpas
Original Article


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.


Bitumen composition DSR AFM Maltene Asphaltene Microstructure 



The authors would like to thank the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) for funding part of the presented research within the research project “Oekophalt”, as well as to Mr. Thomas Riedmayer for running the mechanical bitumen tests for this study.


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Copyright information

© RILEM 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Hofko
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Eberhardsteiner
    • 1
  • J. Füssl
    • 1
  • H. Grothe
    • 1
  • F. Handle
    • 1
  • M. Hospodka
    • 1
  • D. Grossegger
    • 1
  • S. N. Nahar
    • 2
  • A. J. M. Schmets
    • 2
  • A. Scarpas
    • 2
  1. 1.Vienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria
  2. 2.Section of Road and Railway Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering & GeosciencesDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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