The rheological properties of bitumens can be modified by the addition of specific chemical additives. Taking into account the molecular complex aggregation pattern, we hypothesized that macromolecules characterized by long, flexible, and hydrophilic chains can establish soft bridges connecting the different polar aggregates of asphaltenes, strengthening their overall hierarchical supra-structures, and consequently increasing rheological performance at higher temperatures. Here, we propose the use of low cost and high availability polysaccharides as chemical additives to improve the rheological characteristics of a bitumen and to strengthen its thermal resistance. Fourteen different low-cost and high-availability polysaccharides, (flours, gums, and extracts from vegetable products) have been tested. While alghae euchemae have proved to be the most effective additive, corn and 00 flours are the least effective. Attempts to explain their differences have been made considering their chemical interactions with the polar molecules of asphaltenes within the complex framework of their supramolecular hierarchical structures. Through Arrhenius analysis, a correlation between activation energy and preexponential factor has been found, which can be useful for practical purposes, together with an unexpected consistency with the behavior of simple liquids, despite the striking differences in structure. Furthermore, a qualitative model has been suggested. The added value of this work is the focus on polysaccharides constituting low-cost, high availability materials which are sometimes even found as waste in industrial processes, all factors which, together with the environmental issues connected with their use, can be considered for large-scale applications.
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