To access guidance on the application of asphalt click here.
As the surface for some 95 per cent of our roads - as well for
playgrounds, footways, car and lorry parking areas, airport runways
and much more - it is uniquely versatile.
The asphalt industry produces approximately 20 million tonnes
of asphalt every year.
While strength comes from the aggregates, the binding agent
is normally an oil-based bitumen derived from crude oil. The composition
is varied to suit the end use.
Asphalt materials have evolved in a variety of ways over many
years, but the pace of product development over recent years has
The current generation of modern asphalts offers a range of important
properties that improve road safety, maximise road life and reduce
- Reducing spray
- Enhancing road safety by maintaining good skid-resistance
- Reducing road noise
- Improving ride comfort
- Reducing hold-ups at road works through more rapid laying
- Extending the life of a road and reducing major maintenance
by providing stronger, longer-life roadbases.
In addition, the UK industry is driving towards the production and use of more sustainable and environmentally friendly asphalts, through increased use of recycled materials and targeting reductions in energy use by lowering mixture temperatures.
Asphalt plants are often situated in quarries but they may occasionally
be 'satellite' plants in urban locations to serve a specific local
market, or even temporary installations on a major road or airfield
The production process involves blending the aggregates and
then heating them to a temperature suitable for coating with the
For further information contact MPA's Malcolm
MPA provides information and guidance on asphalt products through
the Asphalt Information Service which is contactable via the main
MPA telephone no:
+44 (0) 20 7963 8000 or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to download asphalt guidance:
The Asphalt Information Service can provide on request a list
of depots of MPA members that undertake asphalt contracting throughout
the country. Requests should be made to the telephone number or
email address above.
Probably the most important change facing the UK asphalt industry
and its customers in recent years has been the implementation
of European Specifications for asphalt, its constituents, and
methods of testing. This implementation process was completed
in the UK for the beginning of 2008, but remains under ongoing review across Europe.
The process began on 1 January 2002 with introduction of the
European specification for road bitumens (BS EN 12591) which introduced
changes to the available bitumen grades and grade references.
A guidance note on this was prepared at the time. To download a copy,
The aggregates used in asphalt have also come under the scope
of European Standards (since 1 January 2004), and in order to accommodate
those changes at that time, it was necessary to change the material
descriptions for the British Standard asphalts and macadams. In
addition, the Highways Agency's Specification for Highway Works
(published by The Stationery Office www.tso.co.uk)
has also adopted these and other consequent changes (see www.highways.gov.uk
for contact details for HA). General guidance on European Standards
for aggregates for asphalt can be found here.
As far as asphalt is concerned, the ever-growing family of material test methods (EN
12697 series) for asphalt were published ahead of the various
asphalt product mix specifications and conformity assessment procedures found in the
EN 13108 series . It became a requirement for all EU states
to implement the whole package of standards and withdraw all conflicting
national standards on 1 January 2008. In the
UK, this meant that BS594, BS4987 and parts of BS598 were all
withdrawn and replaced by the European Standards. In the case
of the asphalt mix specifications, these were substantially different
in approach and detail to the traditional BSs that we were used
to working with, although there was little, if any, change
to the mix compositions that were used until that time.
BSI publishes a National Guidance Document BD6691
to interpret the requirements of the EN13108 series for implementation
in the UK - along with PD6692 for asphalt test methods and BS594987
for installation of asphalt (to replace the Part 2s of BS594 and
Guidance on how the Standards should
be implemented in the UK was also produced by the industry and this is available for download
from the table below, Bulletin 1 was published
in June 2006, Bulletins 2 and 3 in July/August 2007.
|Topics covered are:
| Bulletin 1 - June 2006 - Development
on European Standards for Asphalt - approx 115kb
|Bulletin 2 - August 2007 -Materials and
|Bulletin 3 - July 2007 - Impact on Standards
for Laying Asphalt
|Powerpoint Slides from Regional Briefings
- July to Sep 2007
approx 400 kb
The most recent development in relation to Standards and Specifications has been the implementation of the Construction Products Regulation on 01 July 2013. While the introduction of Harmonised European Standards was initially addressed under the Construction Products Directive, the upgrade to a Regulation has brought with it additional considerations. Not least of these is the compulsory requirement for asphalt producers to CE Mark their products when placed on the market. (The UK chose to pre-empt this move by voluntarily CE Marking asphalt back in 2008). Further guidance on the impacts of CE Marking under the CPR is found here.
In September 2013, the annual residential course in
Asphalt Materials and Flexible Pavements, achieved the landmark of being held for 40 consecutive years at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
in conjunction with MPA and its predecessor trade
associations. The Course- traditionally takes place in the first full
week of September after the late August Bank Holiday.
The Course remains at the forefront of training for asphalt technology and the syllabus is annually reviewed
and amended to keep the course both topical and relevant
to the needs of industry and specifier participants
Full details and booking are available online via the University: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cegs.cpd/cpd/asphalt.php.
The UK asphalt industry has been committed to improving workforce competence for many years. For example, its commitment to the National Highways Sector Schemes for asphalt production and laying have supported improvements in product compliance and performance. Further formalisation of competency requirements within these Schemes is under ongoing development and review.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), is a promotional body formed through partnership between MPA Asphalt and the Eurobitume UK (www.bitumenuk.com). AIA's promotional activity is very important on the sector Agenda and has significantly raised the profile of the need for Government to invest in highways infrastructure, and particularly in its maintenance. AIA publishes the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey and is a focal point for media contact on the issues which extend further than simply "potholes". The latest report can be found here. More information on the work of AIA can be found at www.asphaltindustryalliance.com. MPA and its predecessor Associations have carried out collaborative research with its upstream bitumen supplies (Eurobitume UK Members) and its downstream customer (Highways Agency) for several decades. The majority of the work has been carried out at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and most reports will be available to download for FREE from its website - www.trl.co.uk. This joint effort in deriving and delivering innovation across the sector has enabled, for example, the accelerated adoption of materials, specifications and best practice guidance for the UK market. By delivering research needs in collaboration, there is generally more chance that outcomes are acceptable, reasonable and practical for implementation.
Click on the logo left to access the AsPECT carbon footprint calculator.
MPA is also involved in liaison and co-operation with other Client Bodies, such as ADEPT, EA, LG TAG and DIO as well as the recently formed UK Pavement Liaison Group (UK PLG). This includes co-hosting events, such as “Fit for the Future”. Click here for details of the latest event.
An important recent collaboration with ADEPT produced a guide on “Service life of asphalt materials for the purposes of asset management”. This is designed to assist asset managers unfamiliar, or without verifiable data, to make reasonable assumptions on the life of asphalt materials when developing Asset Management Plans and strategies. The guide can be found here.
MPA is a founder-member of the European Asphalt Pavement Association, whose own website can be accessed at www.eapa.org. In a similar fashion to that in which MPA liaises on UK issues, so does EAPA with other European bodies.
Please note this website is maintained to provide information and guidance on UK issues, products and applications of those products.