The use of solubility parameters and free energy theory for phase behaviour of polymer-modified bitumen: a review

Jiqing Zhu, Romain Balieu, Haopeng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Advances related to the use of solubility parameters and free energy theory for the phase behaviour study of polymer-modified bitumen (PMB) are reviewed in this paper. The origin and effects of PMB phase behaviour are criticised with a focus on PMB storage stability, morphology and swelling ratio. An overview of the solubility approach for studying PMB is given regarding the historical and future developments. Free energy expressions for PMB systems are analysed, including the free energy of mixing, elastic free energy and gradient energy. The kinetic aspects are discussed with respect to the diffusion and flow processes. It is indicated that the solubility bodies in the three-dimensional Hansen space and their degree of intersection can be useful for analysing the PMB thermodynamic equilibrium and thus storage stability. But they give no indication by themselves on the PMB morphology. With solubility parameters linked to the PMB free energy, however, an integrated thermodynamic approach can assist in understanding both PMB storage stability and morphology comprehensively. Due to the chemical complexity of bitumen and certain modifiers, the solubility body centres and radiuses should be both considered for a proper expression of the polymer-bitumen interaction in PMB. A hypothetical dilution process can simplify this process, but with limitations. The introduction of elastic free energy may lead to a new and more realistic expression of free energy for PMB system. With this overview, it is expected that a preliminary foundation is established towards a comprehensive and realistic thermodynamic framework for interpreting and predicting PMB phase behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalRoad Materials and Pavement Design
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • free energy
  • phase behaviour
  • polymer-modified bitumen
  • solubility parameters
  • thermodynamics

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