Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers is celebrating 75 years ‘on the road’ in 2013. But despite becoming best known over the years as ‘Irish Tar’, only bitumen-based products have been produced in the last 30 years or more. The company manufactures and supplies a complete range of bituminous road binders, covering all segments of the market in Ireland – producers, contractors and local authorities. Its product range also includes some industrial and DIY coatings and sealants and a range of reinforcing geogrids and geotextiles. However, Irish Tar also innovates in the areas of surface-dressing emulsions, hot-mix binders and mixed materials. Some of the research and development projects undertaken by the company, with field trials, include:

  • EME 2 trial
EME 2 (Enrobé à Module Élevé) is a base or binder course asphalt mixture that originated in France over 20 years ago. There are three nominal-sized mixtures, all of which are characterised by continuous gradings with nominal aggregate sizes of 0/20mm, 0/14mm and 0/10mm. The mixture is specified in the European Asphalt Specification IS EN 13808-1 and is included in the National Standards Authority of Ireland Standard Recommendation SR 28. The mixture will be specified in the National Roads Authority 900 Series. The material had not been produced or laid in Ireland previously and the experience gained from laying a road trial with this material has given confidence that it can be produced, laid and compacted to the specified level of performance. The road trial of EME 2 was laid in July/August 2009 on the Wicklow Port access road and town relief road in co-operation with Morris-Coffey Joint Venture, Wicklow County Council, Arup Consulting Engineers, Irish Tar and Bitumen Suppliers.
  • Warm-mix technology in bituminous mixes
[caption id="attachment_10307" align="alignright" width="1280"] Research and development in Irish Tar laboratories[/caption] A road trial was carried out to demonstrate the advantages of warm-mix technology in reducing mixing temperatures in the production of bituminous materials. Some of the advantages of this technology included improved compactability and workability at lower temperatures. The location of the trial was on the N80 National secondary road at Derryclure, Tullamore, Co Offaly and was carried out in co-operation with the National Roads Authority, Offaly County Council, Kilsaran Road Surfacing and Contract Division, and Irish Tar and Bitumen Suppliers.

The trial consisted of two 200m sections of dense binder course made with warm-mix binder at temperatures 30ºC below standard mixing temperatures. The trial was successful in demonstrating a number of benefits from the use of warm-mix additive in binder:
  1. The production temperatures were reduced by 30oC;
  2. The properties of the recovered binder from the warm mix material had not changed;The workability of the mixed material at lower temperatures was enhanced; and
  3. There was no exposure to fumes for laying crew.
  • Polyflex F – fuel-resisting bituminous binder
F is a premium polymer modified binder designed to impart increased fuel resistance to hot-mix bituminous materials. The use of Polyflex F results in a bituminous material that is more resistant to the ingress of fuel, which enables their use in areas where fuel spillage is likely. Polyflex F complies with EN1297 Bituminous mixtures – Test methods for hot mix asphalt – Part 43: Fuel Resistance.
  • VOC-free 70% emulsion
[caption id="attachment_10308" align="alignright" width="1280"] Irish Tar invests in research to limit the effects of its products on the environment[/caption] Irish Tar is committed to limiting the effect of its products on the environment and to this end, it has targeted a reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in its product range. In July 2009, it ran a successful trial with a VOC-free 70% emulsion. This environmentally friendly material is currently being monitored with a view to running more extensive trials in the future with local authorities.
  • Rephalt (BBA approved)
Rephalt has been certified by the British Board of Agrément (BBA) for use as a cold-applied permanent repair material for footpaths, cycle tracks and road maintenance. This is as a result of two-year performance trials and tests for Rephalt to determine the air voids content, resistance to permanent deformation and indirect stiffness modulus. These trials and tests complied with the requirements of the Guidelines for the Approval and Certification of Permanent Cold-Lay Surfacing Materials (PCSMs). Rephalt is widely known as a high-performance permanent repair material. The certificate is issued under the Highway Authorities Product Approval Scheme. Irish Tar operates from its bitumen terminal at Alexandra Road, Dublin 1, located in the Oil Zone at Dublin Port, where its offices and state-of-the-art laboratories are also situated. In 1991, Irish Tar was the first bitumen company in Ireland to be registered to the Quality Standard ISO 9000 and it now operates to the most recent revised Standard ISO 9001; 2008. It also holds an Integrated Pollution Control licence from the Environmental Protection Agency.