There is a ton of confusion when it comes to DOT-approved asphalt release agents and state DOT-qualified product lists (QPLs). Terms like “release agent” and “DOT-approved” are often used as umbrella terms for any product that cleans asphalt and any legal product, respectively. However, confusing these terms can get you into some serious hot water with your state DOT, as well as waste money out of your pocket that you used to purchase a product that doesn’t work the way you want it to.

The purpose of this short article is to go over some of these terms, help explain when you need a DOT-approved release agent, and touch on how to find the product that you need.

Because diesel fuel has been the gold standard for “release agents” in the past, the term has been thrown around to mean a product that both cleans and prevents build-up, as diesel fuel does. But in terms of products on the market like PavePro, the phrase “asphalt release agent” only refers to products that prevent asphalt build-up from occurring. Release agents are not designed to dissolve and remove asphalt; that would be a solvent or remover. 

Let’s look at the PavePro product line to see how this works in the real world:

Asphalt Release Agents: PavePro Blue is a DOT-approved release agent that is used to prevent asphalt build-up. Because it was designed to be added straight into water spray-down systems and helps water adhere to truck beds or rollers, PavePro Blue is better suited for preventing build-up than it is for cleaning it. 

Asphalt Solvents and Removers: PavePro Gold is intended for the heaviest of asphalt build-ups. It is specifically formulated as a cleaner to penetrate into hardened asphalt and crystallized tack. Its flash point isn’t as high as PavePro Green, so it doesn’t last as long when used as a release agent. 

Diesel Fuel Alternatives–Release Agents and Solvents: PavePro Green is the industry-leading diesel fuel alternative that is used as both an asphalt release agent and asphalt solvent. It has a flash point well above 400°F, so it lasts 3-4x longer than diesel fuel as a release agent; and has a higher KB value than diesel fuel, so it cleans better too. PavePro does not contain any petroleum, so it is 100% legal to be used as an asphalt solvent and is legal in most states as a release agent as well. 

Why is diesel fuel illegal to use as a release agent?

On the note of legality, there is often some confusion about why diesel fuel is illegal to be used as an asphalt solvent or release agent. Some people still claim that it isn’t illegal, so let’s break down the WHY behind these controversial rules.

There are two ways that diesel fuel is banned from being used as a release agent or asphalt solvent in paving and hauling:

1) Laws from the US Government that PROHIBIT the discharge of petroleum-based products; and,

2) DOT rules that ban the use of diesel fuel and other petroleum-based products in asphalt paving operations

It is federally illegal to discharge petroleum-based products into the environment: Now, I am going to be straight-up honest with you here. Most people don’t care about this part. It is very important, but given the nature of our industry, the last thing people are worried about is a little bit of pollution. Regardless, three federal acts from the US government prohibit the discharge of something like diesel fuel, whether on purpose or accidentally. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, The Clean Water Act of 1972, and The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act all forbid the use of diesel fuel as an asphalt release agent because it is a form of petroleum. These acts impose fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars if a contractor is found in violation of them. You can learn more about these laws here

Every single DOT in the United States has BANNED the use of petroleum-based products as release agents in paving operations: There is one very simple reason that every DOT has agreed to do this: it destroys the integrity of the asphalt. The Department of Transportation cares about transportation. The environment isn’t their jurisdiction or their biggest worry. They just want to make sure that the asphalt being laid on their roads is of the utmost quality and won’t disintegrate over time like diesel fuel will cause it to do. 

DID YOU KNOW: When diesel fuel is used as a release agent, it can cut through a freshly laid mat and separate the oil from the aggregate in the pavement for up to 3 months.

To combat this from happening, every DOT in the nation has banned the use of petroleum-based asphalt release agents, including diesel fuel, and many states have even created a list of qualified products that must be used.

Tired of your good-for-nothing asphalt remover or release agent and ready to make a switch?

What is a Department of Transportation QPL?

Many state DOTs have created a list of approved products for use in multiple industries called a qualified products list (QPL). QPLs are categorized by product type, for example, asphalt release agents, and list the manufacturers, product names, and contact information for the products that have been tested by and approved by the state DOT. 

DOTs either rely on the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP)* testing, conduct their own testing, or do a combination of both to determine the effect that the asphalt release agent has on the asphalt. A stripping test is one of the most common tests conducted by NTPEP and DOTs to determine how much oil is stripped from the aggregate over a certain amount of time.

These tests are used to help ensure that the asphalt being laid on DOT-maintained roads is of the highest quality. For contractors, this means that you are required to use a product from your state DOT’s QPL. If they do not have a QPL for asphalt release agents, then you are required to use a non-petroleum-based asphalt release agent. 

*NTPEP now referred to as AASHTO Product Evaluation & Audit Solutions

How do I find out if something is approved in my state?

Finding out what product to use as a release agent is as easy as determining whether or not your state has a QPL. You can do this in one of two ways:

1) Visit www.PavePro.com/do-i-need-a-dot-approved-asphalt-release-agent/ and find your state. There is information regarding what type of product you need, as well as where to find additional information if needed. This page is being updated weekly to include information from every state.

2) Search the following phrase in Google: “[insert state name] DOT-approved asphalt release agent” and click through the first link or two looking for a list of products. If you can’t find any, chances are you just need a non-petroleum-based product. 

Recommended DOT-Approved Asphalt Release Agent: PavePro Blue

PavePro Blue is perfect for asphalt plants in truck beds to prevent carryback and in rollers as a roller release agent to prevent pick-up. It is listed across multiple DOTs’ approved product lists (BA-30 or 357) for use as an asphalt release agent.

DID YOU KNOW: You only have to use a DOT-approved release agent on state/DOT jobs in states that have a QPL? If you’re not on these jobs, you can use PavePro Green throughout your asphalt operations.

Recommended Diesel Fuel Alternative: PavePro Green

If you don’t need a specific DOT-approved asphalt release agent, PavePro Green is the #1 diesel fuel replacement on the market. It will prevent build-up in truck beds and on hand tools for 3-5x longer than diesel fuel will and is a killer cleaner too. With a flash point over 400°F, Green doesn’t evaporate away like diesel and keeps working longer.

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