For other uses, see Asphalt (disambiguation). Note: The terms bitumen and asphalt are mostly interchangeable, Asphalt Road Construction in Germiston except where asphalt is used as a shorthand for asphalt concrete. Natural bitumen from the Dead Sea Refined asphalt The University of Queensland pitch drop experiment, demonstrating the viscosity of asphalt
Asphalt (/ˈæsˌfɔːlt, -ˌfɑːlt/), also known as bitumen (UK English: /ˈbɪtʃəmən, ˈbɪtjʊmən/, US English: /bɪˈt(j)uːmən, baɪˈt(j)uːmən/) is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch. Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was also used.
The primary use (70%) of asphalt Asphalt Driveway Resurfacing Companies is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete. Its other main uses are for bituminous waterproofing products, including production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs.
The terms “asphalt” and “bitumen” are often used interchangeably to mean both natural and manufactured forms of the substance. In American English, “asphalt” (or “asphalt cement”) is commonly used for a refined residue from the distillation process of selected crude oils. Outside the United States, the product is often called “bitumen”, and geologists worldwide often prefer the term for the naturally occurring variety. Common colloquial usage often refers to various forms of asphalt as “tar”, as in the name of the La Brea Tar Pits.
Naturally occurring asphalt is sometimes specified by the term “crude bitumen”. Asphalt Road Construction Its viscosity is similar to that of cold molasses while the material obtained from the fractional distillation of crude oil boiling at 525 °C (977 °F) is sometimes referred to as “refined bitumen”. The Canadian province of Alberta has most of the world’s reserves of natural asphalt in the Athabasca oil sands, which cover 142,000 square kilometres (55,000 sq mi), an area larger than England.
The word “asphalt” is derived from the late Middle English, in turn from French asphalte, based on Late Latin asphalton, asphaltum, which is the latinisation of the Greek ἄσφαλτος (ásphaltos, ásphalton), a word meaning “asphalt/bitumen/pitch” which perhaps derives from ἀ-, “without” and σφάλλω (sfallō), “make fall”. Asphalt Companies the first use of asphalt by the ancients was in the nature of a cement for securing or joining together various objects, and it thus seems likely that the name itself was expressive of this application. Specifically, Herodotus mentioned that bitumen was brought to Babylon to build its gigantic fortification wall. From the Greek, the word passed into late Latin, and thence into French (asphalte) and English (“asphaltum” and “asphalt”). In French, the term asphalte is used for naturally occurring asphalt-soaked limestone deposits, and for specialised manufactured products with fewer voids or greater bitumen content than the “asphaltic concrete” used to pave roads.
The expression “bitumen” originated in the Sanskrit words jatu, meaning “pitch”, and jatu-krit, meaning “pitch creating” or “pitch producing” (referring to coniferous or resinous trees). The Latin equivalent is claimed by some to be originally gwitu-men (pertaining to pitch), and by others, pixtumens (exuding or bubbling pitch), which was subsequently shortened to bitumen, thence passing via French into English. From the same root is derived the Anglo-Saxon word cwidu (mastix), the German word Kitt (cement or mastic) and the old Norse word kvada.
In British English, “bitumen” is used instead of “asphalt”. The word “asphalt” is instead used to refer to asphalt concrete, a mixture of construction aggregate and asphalt itself (also called “tarmac” in common parlance). Bitumen mixed with clay was usually called “asphaltum”, but the term is less commonly used today.
In Australian English, “bitumen” is often used as the generic term for road surfaces.
In American English, “asphalt” is equivalent to the British “bitumen”. However, “asphalt” is also commonly used as a shortened form of “asphalt concrete” (therefore equivalent to the British “asphalt” or “tarmac”).
In Canadian English, the word “bitumen” is used to refer to the vast Canadian deposits of extremely heavy crude oil, while “asphalt” is used for the oil refinery product. Diluted bitumen (diluted with naphtha to make it flow in pipelines) is known as “dilbit” in the Canadian petroleum industry, while bitumen “upgraded” to synthetic crude oil is known as “syncrude”, and syncrude blended with bitumen is called “synbit”.
“Bitumen” is still the preferred geological term for naturally occurring deposits of the solid or semi-solid form of petroleum. “Bituminous rock” is a form of sandstone impregnated with bitumen. The tar sands of Alberta, Canada are a similar material.
Neither of the terms “asphalt” or “bitumen” should be confused with tar or coal tars.[further explanation needed]
See also: Asphaltene
The components of asphalt include four main classes of compounds:
The naphthene aromatics and polar aromatics are typically the majority components. Most natural bitumens also contain organosulfur compounds, resulting in an overall sulfur content of up to 4%. Nickel and vanadium are found at <10 parts per million, as is typical of some petroleum.
The substance is soluble in carbon disulfide. It is commonly modelled as a colloid, with asphaltenes as the dispersed phase and maltenes as the continuous phase. “It is almost impossible to separate and identify all the different molecules of asphalt, because the number of molecules with different chemical structure is extremely large”.
Asphalt may be confused with coal tar, which is a visually similar black, thermoplastic material produced by the destructive distillation of coal. During the early and mid-20th century, when town gas was produced, coal tar was a readily available byproduct and extensively used as the binder for road aggregates. The addition of coal tar to macadam roads led to the word “tarmac”, which is now used in common parlance to refer to road-making materials. However, since the 1970s, when natural gas succeeded town gas, asphalt has completely overtaken the use of coal tar in these applications. Other examples of this confusion include the La Brea Tar Pits and the Canadian oil sands, both of which actually contain natural bitumen rather than tar. “Pitch” is another term sometimes informally used at times to refer to asphalt, as in Pitch Lake.
Bituminous outcrop of the Puy de la Poix, Clermont-Ferrand, France
The majority of asphalt used commercially is obtained from petroleum. Nonetheless, large amounts of asphalt occur in concentrated form in nature. Naturally occurring deposits of bitumen are formed from the remains of ancient, microscopic algae (diatoms) and other once-living things. These remains were deposited in the mud on the bottom of the ocean or lake where the organisms lived. Under the heat (above 50 °C) and pressure of burial deep in the earth, the remains were transformed into materials such as bitumen, kerogen, or petroleum.
Natural deposits of bitumen include lakes such as the Pitch Lake in Trinidad and Tobago and Lake Bermudez in Venezuela. Natural seeps occur in the La Brea Tar Pits and in the Dead Sea.
Bitumen also occurs in unconsolidated sandstones known as “oil sands” in Alberta, Canada, and the similar “tar sands” in Utah, US. The Canadian province of Alberta has most of the world’s reserves, in three huge deposits covering 142,000 square kilometres (55,000 sq mi), an area larger than England or New York state. These bituminous sands contain 166 billion barrels (26.4×10^9 m3) of commercially established oil reserves, giving Canada the third largest oil reserves in the world. Although historically it was used without refining to pave roads, nearly all of the output is now used as raw material for oil refineries in Canada and the United States.
Diverging diamond interchange
The world’s largest deposit of natural bitumen, known as the Athabasca oil sands, is located in the McMurray Formation of Northern Alberta. This formation is from the early Cretaceous, and is composed of numerous lenses of oil-bearing sand with up to 20% oil. Isotopic studies show the oil deposits to be about 110 million years old. Two smaller but still very large formations occur in the Peace River oil sands and the Cold Lake oil sands, to the west and southeast of the Athabasca oil sands, respectively. Of the Alberta deposits, only parts of the Athabasca oil sands are shallow enough to be suitable for surface mining. The other 80% has to be produced by oil wells using enhanced oil recovery techniques like steam-assisted gravity drainage.
Much smaller heavy oil or bitumen deposits also occur in the Uinta Basin in Utah, US. The Tar Sand Triangle deposit, for example, is roughly 6% bitumen.
Bitumen may occur in hydrothermal veins. An example of this is within the Uinta Basin of Utah, in the US, where there is a swarm of laterally and vertically extensive veins composed of a solid hydrocarbon termed Gilsonite. These veins formed by the polymerization and solidification of hydrocarbons that were mobilized from the deeper oil shales of the Green River Formation during burial and diagenesis.
Bitumen is similar to the organic matter in carbonaceous meteorites. However, detailed studies have shown these materials to be distinct. The vast Alberta bitumen resources are considered to have started out as living material from marine plants and animals, mainly algae, that died millions of years ago when an ancient ocean covered Alberta. They were covered by mud, buried deeply over time, and gently cooked into oil by geothermal heat at a temperature of 50 to 150 °C (120 to 300 °F). Due to pressure from the rising of the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Alberta, 80 to 55 million years ago, the oil was driven northeast hundreds of kilometres and trapped into underground sand deposits left behind by ancient river beds and ocean beaches, thus forming the oil sands.
The use of natural bitumen for waterproofing, and as an adhesive dates at least to the fifth millennium BC, with a crop storage basket discovered in Mehrgarh, of the Indus Valley Civilization, lined with it. By the 3rd millennia BC refined rock asphalt was in use, in the region, and was used to waterproof the Great Bath, Mohenjo-daro.
In the ancient Middle East, the Sumerians used natural bitumen deposits for mortar between bricks and stones, to cement parts of carvings, such as eyes, into place, for ship caulking, and for waterproofing. The Greek historian Herodotus said hot bitumen was used as mortar in the walls of Babylon.
The 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) long Euphrates Tunnel beneath the river Euphrates at Babylon in the time of Queen Semiramis (ca. 800 BC) was reportedly constructed of burnt bricks covered with bitumen as a waterproofing agent.
Bitumen was used by ancient Egyptians to embalm mummies. The Persian word for asphalt is moom, which is related to the English word mummy. The Egyptians’ primary source of bitumen was the Dead Sea, which the Romans knew as Palus Asphaltites (Asphalt Lake).
Approximately 40 AD, Dioscorides described the Dead Sea material as Judaicum bitumen, and noted other places in the region where it could be found. The Sidon bitumen is thought to refer to material found at Hasbeya. Pliny refers also to bitumen being found in Epirus. It was a valuable strategic resource, the object of the first known battle for a hydrocarbon deposit—between the Seleucids and the Nabateans in 312 BC.
In the ancient Far East, natural bitumen was slowly boiled to get rid of the higher fractions, leaving a thermoplastic material of higher molecular weight that when layered on objects became quite hard upon cooling. This was used to cover objects that needed waterproofing, such as scabbards and other items. Statuettes of household deities were also cast with this type of material in Japan, and probably also in China.
In North America, archaeological recovery has indicated bitumen was sometimes used to adhere stone projectile points to wooden shafts. In Canada, aboriginal people used bitumen seeping out of the banks of the Athabasca and other rivers to waterproof birch bark canoes, and also heated it in smudge pots to ward off mosquitoes in the summer.
In 1553, Pierre Belon described in his work Observations that pissasphalto, a mixture of pitch and bitumen, was used in the Republic of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik, Croatia) for tarring of ships.
An 1838 edition of Mechanics Magazine cites an early use of asphalt in France. A pamphlet dated 1621, by “a certain Monsieur d’Eyrinys, states that he had discovered the existence (of asphaltum) in large quantities in the vicinity of Neufchatel”, and that he proposed to use it in a variety of ways – “principally in the construction of air-proof granaries, and in protecting, by means of the arches, the water-courses in the city of Paris from the intrusion of dirt and filth”, which at that time made the water unusable. “He expatiates also on the excellence of this material for forming level and durable terraces” in palaces, “the notion of forming such terraces in the streets not one likely to cross the brain of a Parisian of that generation”.
But the substance was generally neglected in France until the revolution of 1830. In the 1830s there was a surge of interest, and asphalt became widely used “for pavements, flat roofs, and the lining of cisterns, and in England, some use of it had been made of it for similar purposes”. Its rise in Europe was “a sudden phenomenon”, after natural deposits were found “in France at Osbann (Bas-Rhin), the Parc (Ain) and the Puy-de-la-Poix (Puy-de-Dôme)”, although it could also be made artificially. One of the earliest uses in France was the laying of about 24,000 square yards of Seyssel asphalt at the Place de la Concorde in 1835.
Among the earlier uses of bitumen in the United Kingdom was for etching. William Salmon’s Polygraphice (1673) provides a recipe for varnish used in etching, consisting of three ounces of virgin wax, two ounces of mastic, and one ounce of asphaltum. By the fifth edition in 1685, he had included more asphaltum recipes from other sources.
The first British patent for the use of asphalt was “Cassell’s patent asphalte or bitumen” in 1834. Then on 25 November 1837, Richard Tappin Claridge patented the use of Seyssel asphalt (patent #7849), for use in asphalte pavement, having seen it employed in France and Belgium when visiting with Frederick Walter Simms, who worked with him on the introduction of asphalt to Britain. Dr T. Lamb Phipson writes that his father, Samuel Ryland Phipson, a friend of Claridge, was also “instrumental in introducing the asphalte pavement (in 1836)”. Indeed, mastic pavements had been previously employed at Vauxhall by a competitor of Claridge, but without success.
Claridge obtained a patent in Scotland on 27 March 1838, and obtained a patent in Ireland on 23 April 1838. In 1851, extensions for the 1837 patent and for both 1838 patents were sought by the trustees of a company previously formed by Claridge. Claridge’s Patent Asphalte Company—formed in 1838 for the purpose of introducing to Britain “Asphalte in its natural state from the mine at Pyrimont Seysell in France”,—”laid one of the first asphalt pavements in Whitehall”. Trials were made of the pavement in 1838 on the footway in Whitehall, the stable at Knightsbridge Barracks,”and subsequently on the space at the bottom of the steps leading from Waterloo Place to St. James Park”. “The formation in 1838 of Claridge’s Patent Asphalte Company (with a distinguished list of aristocratic patrons, and Marc and Isambard Brunel as, respectively, a trustee and consulting engineer), gave an enormous impetus to the development of a British asphalt industry”. “By the end of 1838, at least two other companies, Robinson’s and the Bastenne company, were in production”, with asphalt being laid as paving at Brighton, Herne Bay, Canterbury, Kensington, the Strand, and a large floor area in Bunhill-row, while meantime Claridge’s Whitehall paving “continue(d) in good order”.
Asphalt Road Construction in Germiston ?Macadam country road[dubious – discuss]
Macadam is a type of road construction, pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820, in which single-sized crushed stone layers of small angular stones are placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly. A binding layer of stone dust (crushed stone from the original material) may form; it may also, after rolling, be covered with a binder to keep dust and stones together. The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point.
Pierre-Marie-Jérôme Trésaguet is sometimes considered the first person to bring post-Roman science to road building. A Frenchman from an engineering family, he worked paving roads in Paris from 1757 to 1764. As chief engineer of road construction of Limoges, he had opportunity to develop a better and cheaper method of road construction. In 1775, Tresaguet became engineer-general and presented his answer for road improvement in France, which soon became standard practice there.
Trésaguet had recommended a roadway consisting of three layers of stones laid on a crowned subgrade with side ditches for drainage. The first two layers consisted of angular hand-broken aggregate, maximum size 3 inches (7.6 cm), to a depth of about 8 inches (20 cm). The third layer was about 2 inches (5 cm) thick with a maximum aggregate size of 1 inch (2.5 cm). This top level surface permitted a smoother shape and protected the larger stones in the road structure from iron wheels and horse hooves. To keep the running surface level with the countryside, this road was put in a trench, which created drainage problems. These problems were addressed by changes that included digging deep side ditches, making the surface as solid as possible, and constructing the road with a difference in elevation (height) between the two edges, that difference being referred to interchangeably as the road's camber or cross slope.Laying Telford paving in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania, 1908
Thomas Telford, born in Dumfriesshire Scotland, was a surveyor and engineer who applied Tresaguet's road building theories. In 1801 Telford worked for the British Commission of Highlands Roads and Bridges. He became director of the Holyhead Road Commission between 1815 and 1830. Telford extended Tresaguet's theories, but emphasized high-quality stone. He recognized that some of the road problems of the French could be avoided by using cubical stone blocks.
Telford used roughly 12 in × 10 in × 6 in (30 cm × 25 cm × 15 cm) partially shaped paving stones (pitchers), with a slight flat face on the bottom surface. He turned the other faces more vertically than Tresaguet's method. The longest edge was arranged crossways to the traffic direction, and the joints were broken in the method of conventional brickwork, but with the smallest faces of the pitcher forming the upper and lower surfaces.
Broken stone was wedged into the spaces between the tapered perpendicular faces to provide the layer with good lateral control. Telford kept the natural formation level and used masons to camber the upper surface of the blocks. He placed a 6-inch (15 cm) layer of stone no bigger than 6 cm (2.4 in) on top of the rock foundation. To finish the road surface he covered the stones with a mixture of gravel and broken stone. This structure came to be known as "Telford pitching." Telford's road depended on a resistant structure to prevent water from collecting and corroding the strength of the pavement. Telford raised the pavement structure above ground level whenever possible.
Where the structure could not be raised, Telford drained the area surrounding the roadside. Previous road builders in Britain ignored drainage problems and Telford's rediscovery of these principles was a major contribution to road construction. Though notably of around the same time, John Metcalf was a strong advocate that drainage was in fact an important factor to road construction, and astonished colleagues by building dry roads through marshland. He accomplished this by installing a layer of brushwood and heather.John Loudon McAdam (1756–1836)
John Loudon McAdam was born in Ayr, Scotland, in 1756. In 1787, he became a trustee of the Ayrshire Turnpike in the Scottish Lowlands and during the next seven years this hobby became an obsession. He moved to Bristol, England, in 1802 and became a Commissioner for Paving in 1806. On 15 January 1816, he was elected Surveyor-General of roads for the Turnpike Trust and was now responsible for 149 miles of road. He then put his ideas about road construction into practice, the first 'macadamised' stretch of road being Marsh Road at Ashton Gate, Bristol. He also began to actively propagate his ideas in two booklets called Remarks (or Observations) on the Present System of Roadmaking, (which ran nine editions between 1816 and 1827) and A Practical Essay on the Scientific Repair and Preservation of Public Roads, published in 1819.Photograph of macadam road, ca 1850s, Nicolaus, California
McAdam's method was simpler, yet more effective at protecting roadways: he discovered that massive foundations of rock upon rock were unnecessary, and asserted that native soil alone would support the road and traffic upon it, as long as it was covered by a road crust that would protect the soil underneath from water and wear.
Unlike Telford and other road builders of the time, McAdam laid his roads as level as possible. His 30-foot-wide (9.1 m) road required only a rise of 3 inches (7.6 cm) from the edges to the centre. Cambering and elevation of the road above the water table enabled rain water to run off into ditches on either side.
Size of stones was central to the McAdam's road building theory. The lower 20-centimetre (7.9 in) road thickness was restricted to stones no larger than 7.5 centimetres (3.0 in). The upper 5-centimetre (2.0 in) layer of stones was limited to 2 centimetres (0.79 in) size and stones were checked by supervisors who carried scales. A workman could check the stone size himself by seeing if the stone would fit into his mouth. The importance of the 2 cm stone size was that the stones needed to be much smaller than the 10 cm width of the iron carriage tyres that travelled on the road.
McAdam believed that the "proper method" of breaking stones for utility and rapidity was accomplished by people sitting down and using small hammers, breaking the stones so that none of them was larger than six ounces in weight. He also wrote that the quality of the road would depend on how carefully the stones were spread on the surface over a sizeable space, one shovelful at a time.
McAdam directed that no substance that would absorb water and affect the road by frost should be incorporated into the road. Neither was anything to be laid on the clean stone to bind the road. The action of the road traffic would cause the broken stone to combine with its own angles, merging into a level, solid surface that would withstand weather or traffic.
Through his road-building experience, McAdam had learned that a layer of broken angular stones would act as a solid mass and would not require the large stone layer previously used to build roads. Keeping the surface stones smaller than the tyre width made a good running surface for traffic. The small surface stones also provided low stress on the road, so long as it could be kept reasonably dry.Construction of the first macadamized road in the United States (1823). In the foreground, workers are breaking stones "so as not to exceed 6 ounces [170 g] in weight or to pass a two-inch [5 cm] ring".
The first macadam road built in the United States was constructed between Hagerstown and Boonsboro, Maryland and was named at the time Boonsborough Turnpike Road. This was the last section of unimproved road between Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay to Wheeling on the Ohio River. Stagecoaches traveling the Hagerstown to Boonsboro road in the winter took 5 to 7 hours to cover the 10-mile (16 km) stretch. This road was completed in 1823, using McAdam's road techniques, except that the finished road was compacted with a cast-iron roller instead of relying on road traffic for compaction. The second American road built using McAdam principles was the Cumberland Road which was 73 miles (117 km) long and was completed in 1830 after five years of work.
McAdam's renown is due to his effective and economical construction, which was a great improvement over the methods used by his generation. He emphasized that roads could be constructed for any kind of traffic, and he helped to alleviate the resentment travelers felt toward increasing traffic on the roads. His legacy lies in his advocacy of effective road maintenance and management. He advocated a central road authority and the trained professional official, who could be paid a salary that would keep him from corruption. This professional could give his entire time to his duties and be held responsible for his actions.
McAdam's road building technology was applied to roads by other engineers. One of these engineers was Richard Edgeworth, who filled the gaps between the surface stones with a mixture of stone dust and water, providing a smoother surface for the increased traffic using the roads. This basic method of construction is sometimes known as water-bound macadam. Although this method required a great deal of manual labour, it resulted in a strong and free-draining pavement. Roads constructed in this manner were described as "macadamized."New macadam road construction at McRoberts, Kentucky: pouring tar. 1926
With the advent of motor vehicles, dust became a serious problem on macadam roads. The area of low air pressure created under fast-moving vehicles sucked dust from the road surface, creating dust clouds and a gradual unraveling of the road material. This problem was approached by spraying tar on the surface to create tar-bound macadam. On March 13, 1902 in Monaco, a Swiss doctor, Ernest Guglielminetti, came upon the idea of using tar from Monaco's gasworks for binding the dust. Later a mixture of coal tar and ironworks slag, patented by Edgar Purnell Hooley as tarmac, was introduced.
A more durable road surface (modern mixed asphalt pavement) sometimes referred to in the US as blacktop, was introduced in the 1920s. This pavement method mixed the aggregates into the asphalt with the binding material before they were laid. The macadam surface method laid the stone and sand aggregates on the road and then sprayed it with the binding material. While macadam roads have now been resurfaced in most developed countries, some are preserved along stretches of roads such as the United States' National Road.
Because of the historic use of macadam as a road surface, roads in some parts of the United States (as parts of Pennsylvania) are often referred to as macadam, even though they might be made of asphalt or concrete. Similarly, the term "tarmac" is sometimes colloquially misapplied to asphalt roads or aircraft runways.
Michigan leftPermeable paving demonstration Stone paving in Santarém, Portugal
Permeable paving is a method of paving vehicle and pedestrian pathways that allows for infiltration of fluids. In pavement design the base is the top portion of the roadway that pedestrians or vehicles come into contact with. The media used for the base of permeable paving may be porous to allow for fluids to flow through it or nonporous media that are spaced so that fluid may flow in between the crack may be used. In addition to reducing surface runoff, permeable paving can trap suspended solids therefore filtering pollutants from stormwater. Examples include roads, paths, and parking lots that are subject to light vehicular traffic, such as cycle-paths, service or emergency access lanes, road and airport shoulders, and residential sidewalks and driveways.
Although some porous paving materials appear nearly indistinguishable from nonporous materials, their environmental effects are qualitatively different. Whether it is pervious concrete, porous asphalt, paving stones or concrete or plastic-based pavers, all these pervious materials allow stormwater to percolate and infiltrate the surface areas, traditionally impervious to the soil below. The goal is to control stormwater at the source, reduce runoff and improve water quality by filtering pollutants in the substrata layers.
Permeable solutions can be based on: porous asphalt and concrete surfaces, concrete pavers (permeable interlocking concrete paving systems – PICP), or polymer-based grass pavers, grids and geocells. Porous pavements and concrete pavers (actually the voids in-between them) enable stormwater to drain through a stone base layer for on-site infiltration and filtering. Polymer based grass grid or cellular paver systems provide load bearing reinforcement for unpaved surfaces of gravel or turf.
Grass pavers, plastic turf reinforcing grids (PTRG), and geocells (cellular confinement systems) are honeycombed 3D grid-cellular systems, made of thin-walled HDPE plastic or other polymer alloys. These provide grass reinforcement, ground stabilization and gravel retention. The 3D structure reinforces infill and transfers vertical loads from the surface, distributing them over a wider area. Selection of the type of cellular grid depends to an extent on the surface material, traffic and loads. The cellular grids are installed on a prepared base layer of open-graded stone (higher void spacing) or engineered stone (stronger). The surface layer may be compacted gravel or topsoil seeded with grass and fertilizer. In addition to load support, the cellular grid reduces compaction of the soil to maintain permeability, while the roots improve permeability due to their root channels.
In new suburban growth, porous pavements protect watersheds. In existing built-up areas and towns, redevelopment and reconstruction are opportunities to implement stormwater water management practices. Permeable paving is an important component in Low Impact Development (LID), a process for land development in the United States that attempts to minimize impacts on water quality and the similar concept of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in the United Kingdom.
The infiltration capacity of the native soil is a key design consideration for determining the depth of base rock for stormwater storage or for whether an underdrain system is needed.
Permeable paving surfaces have been demonstrated as effective in managing runoff from paved surfaces. Large volumes of urban runoff causes serious erosion and siltation in surface water bodies. Permeable pavers provide a solid ground surface, strong enough to take heavy loads, like large vehicles, while at the same time they allow water to filter through the surface and reach the underlying soils, mimicking natural ground absorption. They can reduce downstream flooding and stream bank erosion, and maintain base flows in rivers to keep ecosystems self-sustaining. Permeable pavers also combat erosion that occurs when grass is dry or dead, by replacing grassed areas in suburban and residential environments.
Permeable paving surfaces keep the pollutants in place in the soil or other material underlying the roadway, and allow water seepage to groundwater recharge while preventing the stream erosion problems. They capture the heavy metals that fall on them, preventing them from washing downstream and accumulating inadvertently in the environment. In the void spaces, naturally occurring micro-organisms digest car oils, leaving little but carbon dioxide and water. Rainwater infiltration is usually less than that of an impervious pavement with a separate stormwater management facility somewhere downstream..in areas where infiltration is not possible due to unsuitable soil conditions permeable pavements are used in the attenuation mode where water is retained in the pavement and slowly released to surface water systems between storm events.
Permeable pavements may give urban trees the rooting space they need to grow to full size. A "structural-soil" pavement base combines structural aggregate with soil; a porous surface admits vital air and water to the rooting zone. This integrates healthy ecology and thriving cities, with the living tree canopy above, the city's traffic on the ground, and living tree roots below. The benefits of permeables on urban tree growth have not been conclusively demonstrated and many researchers have observed tree growth is not increased if construction practices compact materials before permeable pavements are installed.
Permeable pavements are designed to replace Effective Impervious Areas (EIAs), not to manage stormwater from other impervious surfaces on site. Use of this technique must be part of an overall on site management system for stormwater, and is not a replacement for other techniques.
Also, in a large storm event, the water table below the porous pavement can rise to a higher level preventing the precipitation from being absorbed into the ground. The additional water is stored in the open graded crushed drain rock base and remains until the subgrade can absorb the water. For clay-based soils, or other low to 'non'-draining soils, it is important to increase the depth of the crushed drain rock base to allow additional capacity for the water as it waits to be infiltrated.
The best way to prevent this problem is to understand the soil infiltration rate, and design the pavement and base depths to meet the volume of water. Or, allow for adequate rain water run off at the pavement design stage.
Highly contaminated runoff can be generated by some land uses where pollutant concentrations exceed those typically found in stormwater. These "hot spots" include commercial plant nurseries, recycling facilities, fueling stations, industrial storage, marinas, some outdoor loading facilities, public works yards, hazardous materials generators (if containers are exposed to rainfall), vehicle service and maintenance areas, and vehicle and equipment washing and steam cleaning facilities. Since porous pavement is an infiltration practice, it should not be applied at stormwater hot spots due to the potential for groundwater contamination. All contaminated runoff should be prevented from entering municipal storm drain systems by using best management practices (BMPs) for the specific industry or activity.
Reference sources differ on whether low or medium traffic volumes and weights are appropriate for porous pavements. For example, around truck loading docks and areas of high commercial traffic, porous pavement is sometimes cited as being inappropriate. However, given the variability of products available, the growing number of existing installations in North America and targeted research by both manufacturers and user agencies, the range of accepted applications seems to be expanding. Some concrete paver companies have developed products specifically for industrial applications. Working examples exist at fire halls, busy retail complex parking lots, and on public and private roads, including intersections in parts of North America with quite severe winter conditions.
Permeable pavements may not be appropriate when land surrounding or draining into the pavement exceeds a 20 percent slope, where pavement is down slope from buildings or where foundations have piped drainage at their footers. The key is to ensure that drainage from other parts of a site is intercepted and dealt with separately rather than being directed onto permeable surfaces.
Cold climates may present special challenges. Road salt contains chlorides that could migrate through the porous pavement into groundwater. Snow plow blades could catch block edges and damage surfaces. Sand cannot be used for snow and ice control on perveous asphalt or concrete because it will plug the pores and reduce permeability. Infiltrating runoff may freeze below the pavement, causing frost heave, though design modifications can reduce this risk. These potential problems do not mean that porous pavement cannot be used in cold climates. Porous pavement designed to reduce frost heave has been used successfully in Norway. Furthermore, experience suggests that rapid drainage below porous surfaces increases the rate of snow melt above.
Some estimates put the cost of permeable paving at two to three times that of conventional asphalt paving. Using permeable paving, however, can reduce the cost of providing larger or more stormwater BMPs on site, and these savings should be factored into any cost analysis. In addition, the off-site environmental impact costs of not reducing on-site stormwater volumes and pollution have historically been ignored or assigned to other groups (local government parks, public works and environmental restoration budgets, fisheries losses, etc.) The City of Olympia, Washington is studying the use of pervious concrete quite closely and finding that new stormwater regulations are making it a viable alternative to storm water.
Some permeable pavements require frequent maintenance because grit or gravel can block the open pores. This is commonly done by industrial vacuums that suck up all the sediment. If maintenance is not carried out on a regular basis, the porous pavements can begin to function more like impervious surfaces. With more advanced paving systems the levels of maintenance needed can be greatly decreased, elastomerically bound glass pavements requires less maintenance than regular concrete paving as the glass bound pavement has 50% more void space.
Plastic grid systems, if selected and installed correctly, are becoming more and more popular with local government maintenance personnel owing to the reduction in maintenance efforts: reduced gravel migration and weed suppression in public park settings.
Some permeable paving products are prone to damage from misuse, such as drivers who tear up patches of plastic & gravel grid systems by "joy riding" on remote parking lots at night. The damage is not difficult to repair but can look unsightly in the meantime. Grass pavers require supplemental watering in the first year to establish the vegetation, otherwise they may need to be re-seeded. Regional climate also means that most grass applications will go dormant during the dry season. While brown vegetation is only a matter of aesthetics, it can influence public support for this type of permeable paving.
Traditional permeable concrete paving bricks tend to lose their color in relatively short time which can be costly to replace or clean and is mainly due to the problem of efflorescence.
Efflorescence is a hardened crystalline deposit of salts, which migrate from the center of concrete or masonry pavers to the surface to form insoluble calcium carbonates that harden on the surface. Given time, these deposits form much like how a stalactite takes shape in a cave, except in this case on a flat surface. Efflorescence usually appears white, gray or black depending on the region.
Over time efflorescence begins to negatively affect the overall appearance of masonry/concrete and may cause the surfaces to become slippery when exposed to moisture. If left unchecked, this efflorescence will harden whereby the calcium/lime deposits begin to affect the integrity of the cementatious surface by slowly eroding away the cement paste and aggregate. In some cases it will also discolor stained or coated surfaces.
Efflorescence forms more quickly in areas that are exposed to excessive amounts of moisture such as near pool decks, spas, and fountains or where irrigation runoff is present. As a result, these affected regions become very slick when wet thereby causing a significant loss of "friction coefficient". This can be of serious concern especially as a public safety issue to individuals, principals and property owners by exposing them to possible injury and increased general liability claims.
Efflorescence remover chemicals can be used to remove calcium/lime build-up without damaging the integrity of the paving surface.
Installation of porous pavements is no more difficult than that of dense pavements, but has different specifications and procedures which must be strictly adhered to. Nine different families of porous paving materials present distinctive advantages and disadvantages for specific applications. Here are examples:Main article: Pervious concrete
Pervious concrete is widely available, can bear frequent traffic, and is universally accessible. Pervious concrete quality depends on the installer's knowledge and experience.
Plastic grids allow for a 100% porous system using structural grid systems for containing and stabilizing either gravel or turf. These grids come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on use; from pathways to commercial parking lots. These systems have been used readily in Europe for over a decade, but are gaining popularity in North America due to requirements by government for many projects to meet LEED environmental building standards. Plastic grid system are also popular with homeowners due to their lower cost to install, ease of installation, and versatility. The ideal design for this type of grid system is a closed cell system, which prevents gravel/sand/turf from migrating laterally. It is also known as Grass pavers / Turf Pavers in India 
Porous asphalt is produced and placed using the same methods as conventional asphalt concrete; it differs in that fine (small) aggregates are omitted from the asphalt mixture. The remaining large, single-sized aggregate particles leave open voids that give the material its porosity and permeability. To ensure pavement strength, fiber may be added to the mix or a polymer-modified asphalt binder may be used. Generally, porous asphalt pavements are designed with a subsurface reservoir that holds water that passes through the pavement, allowing it to evaporate and/or percolate slowly into the surround soils.
Open-graded friction courses (OGFC) are a porous asphalt surface course used on highways to improve driving safety by removing water from the surface. Unlike a full-depth porous asphalt pavement, OGFCs do not drain water to the base of a pavement. Instead, they allow water to infiltrate the top 3/4 to 1.5 inch of the pavement and then drain out to the side of the roadway. This can improve the friction characteristics of the road and reducing road spray.
Single-sized aggregate without any binder, e.g. loose gravel, stone-chippings, is another alternative. Although it can only be safely used in very low-speed, low-traffic settings, e.g. car-parks and drives, its potential cumulative area is great.Grass pavement
Porous turf, if properly constructed, can be used for occasional parking like that at churches and stadia. Plastic turf reinforcing grids can be used to support the increased load.:2  Living turf transpires water, actively counteracting the "heat island" with what appears to be a green open lawn.Main article: interlocking concrete pavers
Permeable interlocking concrete pavements are concrete units with open, permeable spaces between the units.:2 They give an architectural appearance, and can bear both light and heavy traffic, particularly interlocking concrete pavers, excepting high-volume or high-speed roads. Some products are polymer-coated and have an entirely porous face.
Permeable clay brick pavements are fired clay brick units with open, permeable spaces between the units. Clay pavers provide a durable surface that allows stormwater runoff to permeate through the joints.Main article: Resin bound paving
Resin bound paving is a mixture of resin binder and aggregate. Clear resin is used to fully coat each aggregate particle before laying. Enough resin is used to allow each aggregate particle to adhere to one another and to the base yet leave voids for water to permeate through. Resin bound paving provides a strong and durable surface that is suitable for pedestrian and vehicular traffic in applications such as pathways, driveways, car parks and access roads.
Elastomerically bound recycled glass porous pavement consisting of bonding processed post consumer glass with a mixture of resins, pigments, granite and binding agents. Approximately 75 percent of glass in the U.S. is disposed in landfills.
Stormwater management practices related to roadways: