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03/09/2020 News

Sustainability through durability – the performance benefits of polymer modified binders (PMBs) and Total Styrelf®




As traffic levels increase and the government struggles with an ever-growing backlog of highway repairs, today’s new roads and resurfacings must be more resilient, environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and safer than ever.

To provide these benefits to users such as local authority highway asset managers, specifiers, and designers, Total developed Styrelf® – a premium polymer modified bitumen (PMB), it brings together exceptional sustainability and durability, whatever the local conditions.

In this article, we detail the reasons why PMBs are an excellent choice for highways, racetracks, airfields, and bridges, offering cutting-edge features and performance.


Exceptional fatigue resistance

Resistance against fatigue is a key benefit of PMBs for asphalt. Without this crucial characteristic, cracking, pot holes, and other issues can affect the surface, necessitating the need for early and costly repairs.

With Total Styrelf® X, Total Styrelf eXcel® and Total Styrelf® eXtreme, surfaces exhibit a multi-fold increase in cycles to failure. The graph below shows just how outstanding these increases are – basic, pen-grade samples failed after just over 200 cycles, compared to Total Styrelf® eXtreme 100 samples which were still functional after 1,000 cycles, all while retaining 20% of their original stiffness.



These results are the product of over 35 years of constant development, just some of the long line of studies that have proven Styrelf® PMB’s resistance to aging. In an independent test by University of Laussanne and Total in Switzerland, the PMB outperformed all other similar modified and unmodified binders in terms of oxidative and UV aging over an extensive test period of 20 years, resisting low-temperature cracking, and oxidative aging.


A PMB that meets multiple asphalt specifications 

Total Styrelf® can be used to manufacture a wide range of asphalts, making them a particularly flexible choice of binder that also eliminates waste and the danger of running out of storage capacity. This includes WT2 hot-rolled asphalts, premium stone mastic asphalts (SMAs) that must comply to local or TS2010 specifications, and even SAMIs – stress absorbing material interlayers.


Stable in storage – flexible and cost-effective 

Given that Total Styrelf® PMB features cross-linked polymers, it is much more stable when stored compared to other binders. This means it still complies with specifications after up to 100 days in storage – as opposed to basic products that must be quality checked after just 28 days. This enviable increase in stability gives buyers much more flexibility when it comes to mixing the product, as well as reducing the potential for additional costs attributed to waste.


Reduces reactive maintenance

Total Styrelf® PMB’s focus on sustainability through durability means it ages and deteriorates slower. This reduces the occurrence of reactive maintenance and gives asset managers the ability to predictively model the surface’s maintenance requirements.

The impacts of this are significant. Users can improve their general financial planning approach and outlook, as well as build better, stronger cases when applying for central government funding. Less maintenance means less environmental and traffic disruption, and increased productivity – all of which are being assigned ever greater importance by network operators across the country.


Warm mix for improved safety, faster contracting, and reduced emissions [h2]

Every product in the Total Styrelf® portfolio is available as a warm-mix binder as part of the Total Styrelf® ECO² range. Warm-mix products can be laid at temperatures reduced by up to 40°C, which allows them to be mixed and laid faster, and thicker or multiple layers to be laid in single shifts.

This greatly increases site productivity, reduces emissions, and provides health and safety benefits for workers and the general public due to reduced steam production, all beneficial for urban works or those in cities with clean air or ultra-low emissions zones. Learn more about Styrelf® ECO² in action in our A66 case study.

Styrelf® PMBs from Total Bitumen are the subject of constant industrial innovation and designed to offer cutting-edge sustainability and durability to roadbuilders, helping form the backbone of tomorrow’s transport networks. For more information, contact our experts today.