The Shell Cariphalte range of polymer modified bitumen (PMB) was designed to help customers meet the changing demands and pressures of road surfacing. Fast-forward to today, and Shell Cariphalte is in use around the globe – from busy roads and car parks to iconic projects such as world-famous racetracks.
As with most innovations, the journey for PMB and Shell Cariphalte began with a challenge. For most roads, conventional bitumen delivered in face of expected road use and conditions. Yet, the pressures on road use from vehicles and the environment soon began to outpace the resilience of conventional bitumen. A new solution was needed to which PMB was the answer. PMB is now a proven solution which incorporates specially developed additives to improve the performance of bitumen. These additives alter the chemical structure and physical properties of conventional bitumen to improve rheology, reduce chances of fatigue and low temperature cracking, and improve fuel resistance, adhesion and cohesion.
The pressures placed on roads have only increased in the time since PMB was originally developed. Modern challenges include higher traffic volumes, speeds and axle weights, increasingly adverse and unpredictable climate conditions, and requirements for longer lasting and cost-effective roads that minimise maintenance disruption to users. So, whilst PMB was conceived 50 years ago, its journey to the present is one of iterative innovation.
The Shell Cariphalte range in use today benefits from decades of research and development. The modern range can be formulated to overcome specific challenges such as improved resistance to deformation or to provide better adhesion between bitumen and aggregate than conventional bitumen. As a result, these advanced products deliver improved durability, reliability and adaptability compared to conventional bitumen – all provided by one of the world’s leading technical specialists in bitumen manufacturing.
Adaptability is critical in terms of developing tailor-made solutions for specific challenges. The airfield (AF), drainage asphalt (DA) heavy duty (HD), fuel resisting (FR) and racetrack variants of Shell Cariphalte are devised with such tailoring in mind. These higher performance products, for example, are designed for improved resistance to deformation and cracking under high-stress conditions such as busy roads, bus lanes and airfields.
Yet, no example of the Cariphalte application captures the demands placed on the product more effectively than its use at the Formula One famed Hockenheim ring Baden-Württemberg Racetrack in Germany. Here, Shell Cariphalte is faced with the demanding performance requirements of a racetrack and the need to withstand the force generated by cars that are drastically braking and accelerating, all while maintaining incredibly high aesthetic standards for the track. Product qualities such as elastic recovery, penetration and softening point were all carefully controlled to meet the needs of the circuit’s FIA Grade 1 licence.
Whether it’s an iconic racetrack or busy urban bus lane, the requirements and demands of roads will continue their upward trajectory, as will the need for high quality specialised products that deliver on durability and reliability. What is also certain is that as the future of mobility changes we will see new requirements and challenges for our roads. With Shell’s determined focus on continuous improvement for bitumen products, the next 50 years are sure to see the Cariphalte range develop and grow even further.