Softening Point Experiments Compare Methods' Ease, Accuracy
A petrochemical product's softening point impacts performance; however, complex test sample preparation and varying heating requirements can present repeatability challenges that affect quality. Comparative softening point studies on bitumen samples using ASTM D 3461 (Mettler cup-and-ball) and ASTM D 36 (ring-and-ball) explored the accuracy and repeatability of each.
Softening and dropping point determination are established analytical tests that provide quality control for petrochemical products such as bitumen (asphalt). However, to be accurate, manual/semi-automated quality tests prescribed in ASTM standards must be performed in a standardized fashion. Unfortunately, manual processing bears inherent process risks that affect repeatability, which in turn can negatively affect end-product performance. Additionally, today's most prevalent softening point determination methods differ in terms of hardware. Do the methods provide similar results?