Asphalt creates a sticky mess on every tool and piece of equipment it touches from the production process to the lay down site. There are many products on the market to help prevent asphalt from sticking to surfaces and to clean tools and equipment during and after the paving process. Knowing which solution to use in various applications for best results can be tricky. Further complicating the decision are DOT regulations, safety implications, and environmental factors. Let’s take a closer look at asphalt release agents and asphalt cleaners, and how to determine which solution is best for your specific operation.
Asphalt release agents are commonly used at asphalt plants, during transport, and at the laydown site. The purpose of a release agent is to create a barrier between the asphalt and tool (or piece of equipment) to prevent adhesion. Asphalt release agents are heavily regulated by state DOTs and most must undergo evaluation by the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP) to ensure they do not degrade the integrity of the asphalt in any way. Release agents are typically water-based and highly dilutable. While some may form a short-term barrier to prevent asphalt adhesion, many evaporate or wear-away quickly, causing hardened asphalt build-up.
Asphalt cleaners are used after asphalt has already adhered to and hardened on a surface. The purpose of an asphalt cleaner (also called a “solvent”) is to break down the asphalt so it can easily be removed from tools and equipment. Solvents are less regulated by DOTs, but are typically evaluated on how quickly and effectively they break down asphalt for easy removal. Some DOTs do not allow the use of solvents at laydown sites to avoid the risk of spills on new mat. Spilling a solvent on laid asphalt may result in potholes, as the laid asphalt is broken down by the cleaner.
Both release agents and asphalt cleaners serve important functions in the paving process, and typically both products are needed for efficient, clean operations. While release agents can help in preventing some asphalt adhesion, they often fall short in totally preventing asphalt buildup and require frequent re-application, costing valuable time and resources. Asphalt cleaners, on the other hand, serve an important purpose in removing hardened asphalt. However, many solvents are composed of hazardous, flammable ingredients and pose troublesome quality control issues if spilled on freshly laid mat.
Best of Both Worlds
In most paving operations, it is advisable to use an effective release agent prior to laydown and then clean any remaining build-up with and environmentally safe cleaner after paving is complete. PavePro Green is one of the few solutions on the market that offers the best of both worlds by boasting significant release power along with powerful cleaning ability. PavePro Green is designed to be an asphalt solvent, but it also leaves a slick-oily film to prevent asphalt from sticking. It also has the unique ability to be “deactivated” with water – so, if it is spilled on fresh mat, dousing it with water will deactivate its solvent power preventing quality control issues. While PavePro Green is categorized as an asphalt cleaner, its release power is longer lasting than traditional “release agents.”
Some DOTs forbid the use of asphalt solvents on the job site regardless of their ability to deactivate. In this case, PavePro Blue, Chemtek’s non-stick release agent, is the best option to use at the job site. PavePro Blue has been evaluated by NTPEP and demonstrates top-tier effectiveness as a release agent. Still, after the job is done, taking tools and equipment back to the shop to clean with PavePro Green is essential to preserve the integrity and life of your paving assets.
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