Asphalt Binder Cracking Device

Simplicity and accuracy are the Asphalt Binder Cracking Device’s unique advantages in low-temperature binder testing technology.

Asphalt Binder Cracking Device - ABCD

key benefits


Direct Readings

Low temperature thermal cracking can be determined directly without elaborate assumptions and complicated calculations.


Emulates Actual Conditions

The test creates field-like conditions for the tested binders as the sample is restrained from contracting.


Straight-forward Procedure

A set of four specimens takes about three hours to prepare and about four hours to cool in the cooling chamber to determine the cracking temperature.


Simple Calculations

The cracking temperature is determined directly from the real-time graph of binder temperature and strain versus time.


More Reliable

The silicone molds reduce the handling of the specimen to decrease erroneous results. The molds also maintain flexibility at lower temperatures so no excess strain is applied to the sample during testing, allowing the specimens to contract.


Easy & Multiple Specimen Testing

The test is forgiving and the simplicity of the testing is easy to master, reducing chances for errors. The current testing chamber can hold 16 specimens at once, which allows different binder samples to be tested simultaneously.




Low-temperature thermal cracking is one of the major asphalt pavement failure modes. Low-temperature asphalt thermal cracking results in billions of dollars spent annually for pavement repair in the United States. To minimize premature failure due to thermal cracking, it is essential to properly grade asphalt binders for the expected climatic environment. However, the current asphalt binder specifications (AASHTO M-320) cannot grade asphalt binders correctly for the low-temperature cracking potential, especially for polymer-modified asphalt binders. The AASHTO specifications estimate the cracking temperature b comparing the thermal stress development and the strength. However, there is no reliable method to measure the strength of asphalt binders at low temperatures.


The field-like condition created during the ABCD test eliminates the need for measuring moduli and strength. The ABCD test also eliminates the need for lengthy calculations and assumptions used in the AASHTO specifications, such as the coefficient of thermal expansion and the time-temperature shift function. In the ABCD test, the binder sample is placed outside of a 2-inch diameter ABCD ring which has near-zero thermal contraction. The test specimen is placed in a cooling chamber where the temperature is steadily reduced. As the temperature is lowered, the binder specimen contracts and compresses the ABCD ring. The sensors installed inside the ABCD ring measure and record temperatures and strains. When the binder specimen cracks, the strain is relieved abruptly and the temperature at that moment is the ABCD cracking temperature. Cracking temperatures correlate with field tests much better than the current AASHTO methods.

how it works

After the binder samples are prepared, they are placed in a small environmental chamber that cools the samples at a pre-determined rate. At least three samples of the same specimen are recommended for each test. During the cooling and data recording process, the computer program does all of the test work. The program records the strain and temperature readings at ten-second intervals. A real-time plot of the binder strain and temperature is recorded in the data acquisition software and the test is ended when the samples crack. The cracking temperature is recorded as the temperature where a sudden strain jump appears on the strain versus temperature plot. The strength of the asphalt binder can also be determined from the magnitude of the strain jump. Again, only the ABCD can accurately and simultaneously measure the thermal stress and cracking temperature of asphalt binders.



AASHTO t 387-19

  • Standard Method of Test for Determining the Cracking Temperature of Asphalt Binder Using the Asphalt Binder Cracking Device (ABCD)

main features

  • Simple Construction: Unlike other test devices, ABCD does not have a mechanical loading component to be regularly calibrated and maintained.
  • No Liquid Nitrogen, No Liquid Temperature Bath
  • Simple Test Procedure: Operator intervention is very minimal, reducing the error caused by specimen handling.
  • No Alignment Problem: In ABCD testing, the binder specimen is directly molded on the ABCD ring and not disturbed until the test is completed.
  • Robust Test: Ruggedness testing at North Central Superpave Center, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and EZ Asphalt, indicates that discrepancies in sample preparation do not significantly affect the test results.
  • Simultaneous Testing of Multiple Specimens: The number of test specimens per test can be flexible. The current ABCD model can test up to 4 or 8 specimens simultaneously. Custom ABCD model can test up to 16 or more specimens simultaneously.


main applications

  • To test the low temperature cracking susceptibility of the asphalt binders
  • Quality Control

research applications

  • We encourage collaboration with research institutes worldwide to help them achieve their research goals, however advanced they may be. If you are interested in performing research in a new and exciting field, give us a call, we like a challenge!


Real-time graph during ABCD test showing four specimens being tested in the cooling chamber. Temperature continuously decreases. Asphalt binder strain stays relatively constant for the first 90 minutes, then the binder begins to contract (strain drops), and the strain jumps when the binder cracks. The cracking temperature is recorded at the time the strain jumps.

After the test, the data are analyzed and presented as a graph of strain vs. temperature and in a summary table in an Excel worksheet for easy incorporation into reports and presentations. The summary table shows cracking temperatures, strain jumps, averages and standard deviations.

  • Intuitive and easy to use software
  • Real-time plots
  • Data analysis

If you are interested in performing research in a new field that isn’t covered above, contact us, we like a challenge!

The  ABCD system is shipped with the following components:

  • An environmental chamber capable of cooling a specimen at a constant rate to temperatures of -60ºC.
  • A computer and data acquisition system, which records real-time strain and temperature readings.
  • Specimen silicone molds are used to prepare and hold the asphalt binder specimens for testing.
  • The ABCD rings, are to be placed inside the specimen mold and provide restraint as the asphalt binder contracts during the cooling process.
  • Testing accessories: temperature-controlled pouring device and turntables to aid trimming.
  • Number of ABCD rings: 4
  • Number of silicone sample molds: 4
  • Sensors in the ring: RTD and Bi-Axial Strain Gage


  • A/D Conversion: 8 channels (two per ring) standard.
  • Operating Software: LabView compiled software Software for data analysis and tabular/graphical outputs in Microsoft Excel format Power supply, cables, connectors
  • Contains one shelf for up to 4 ABCD rings
  • Interior volume: 1.2 cubic feet (34 liter)
  • Exterior dimensions: 42″ wide x 25″ deep x 28″ high (1.1m x 0.6m x 0.7m)
  • Weight: approximately 300 pounds
  • Electricity: 115 Volt, single phase, 60Hz, 20 Amp service required.
  • Live load capacity: approximately 175 Watts
  • Heat rejection: 5500 BTU/hr maximum (during cooling operation)
  • Temperature range: -73 °C to +190 °C
  • Temperature stability: 0.5 °C from -50 °C to +190 °C, ±1 °C below -50 °C, at steady state conditions after stabilization

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Important Notice


Dr. Sang-Soo Kim, the founder of EZ Asphalt Technology and inventor of the (patented) Asphalt Binder Cracking Device, has effective immediately handed over all ABCD production and sales worldwide to James Cox & Sons, Inc. & Cooper Research Technology Limited.

Research Publications
  1. Michael Elwardany, Jean-Pascal Planche, and Gayle King. “Proposed Changes to Asphalt Binder Specifications to Address Binder Quality-Related Thermally Induced Surface Damage”  Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Volume 2676, Issue 5, 2022, pp 176-191.
  2. Michael Elwardany, Jean-Pascal Planche, and Gayle King. “Universal and practical approach to evaluate asphalt binder resistance to thermally-induced surface damage” Construction and Building Materials, Volume 255, Issue 0, 2020, 119331
  3. Ashkan Bozorgzad, Beom Jun Chon, Anand Sampath, YongJoo Kim, and Hosin David Lee. “Impacts of WMA Additives on Viscosity and Cracking of Asphalt Binder” Advances in Civil Engineering Materials, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2018, pp 496-506
  4. Amir Golalipour and David J Mensching. “Investigation of Long Term Aging and Its Effects on Cracking Potential of Asphalt Binder” Transportation Research Board 97th Annual Meeting, 2018, 8p
  5. Mohsen Radi, Moses Akentuna, and Sang Soo Kim. “Effects of Cooling Rate and Physical Hardening on Strength and Low-Temperature Cracking of Asphalt Binder” Transportation Research Board 97th Annual Meeting, 2018, 15p
  6. Mohd Rosli Mohd Hasan, Zhanping You, Xu Yang, and Patricia A Heiden. “Quantification of Physicochemical Properties, Activation Energy, and Temperature Susceptibility of Foamed Asphalt Binders” Construction and Building Materials, Volume 153, Issue 0, 2017, pp 557-568
  7. Sang Soo Kim, Moses Akentuna, Munir Nazzal, and Ala Abbas. “Effect of Asphalt Binder Modification Type on Low Temperature Performance Determined Using Asphalt Concrete Cracking Device (ACCD)” Journal of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, Issue 85, 2016, pp 641-658
  8. Farrar, M., Kim, S. Pauli, P., Planche, J.P. (2015) “An Advanced Low Temperature Rheological and Fracture Test Method for Bitumen Purchase Specifications and Pavement Performance Prediction: 4-mm DSR/ABCD.” 8th RILEM International Symposium on Testing and Characterization of Sustainable and Innovative Bituminous Materials, RILEM Bookseries 11
  9. Sang-Soo Kim, Munir Nazzal, Ala R Abbas, Moses Akentuna, and Mir Shahnewaz Arefin. Evaluation of Low Temperature Cracking Resistance of WMA. Ohio DOT Report FHWA/OH-2015/11, 2015, 121p
  10. W S Mogawer, A J Austerman, and S S Kim. “Effect of Binder Type, Mastic, and Aggregate Type on the Low-Temperature Characteristics of Modified Hot Mix Asphalt”  Journal of Testing and Evaluation, Volume 41, Issue 6, 2013, 10p
  11. Hosin David Lee, Thomas Glueckert, Taha Ahmed, Yongjoo Kim, Cheolmin Baek, and Sung-Do Hwang. “Laboratory evaluation and field implementation of Polyethylene Wax-based warm mix asphalt additive in USA” International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology, Volume 6, Issue 5, 2013, pp 547-553
  12. Sang Soo Kim. “Research Pays Off: The Asphalt Binder Cracking Device Test” TR News, Issue 284, 2013, pp 51-53
  13. Jellema, E., Scholten, E., De Vries, S., Kim, S., Kluttz, R. “Comparing cold performance results using Fracture Toughness test, Asphalt Binder Cracking Device, Fraass Breaking point and Bending Beam Rheometer” 5th Eurasphalt & Eurobitume Congress, 13-15th June 2012, Istanbul
  14. Juanyu Liu and Peng Li. “Low Temperature Performance of Sasobit-Modified Warm-Mix Asphalt” Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, Volume 24, Issue 1, 2012, pp 57-63
  15. Zhanping You, Julian Mills-Beale, Elham Fini, Shu Wei Goh, and Baron Colbert. “Evaluation of Low-Temperature Binder Properties of Warm-Mix Asphalt, Extracted and Recovered RAP and RAS, and Bioasphalt”  Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, Volume 23, Issue 11, 2011, pp 1569-1574
  16. Baron Colbert, Julian Mills-Beale, and Zhanping You. “Low Temperature Cracking Potential of Aged Asphalts Using Simulated Aging Techniques” 11th International Conference of Chinese Transportation Professionals (ICCTP), 2011, pp 4113-4120
  17. Raul Velasquez, Hassan Tabatabaee, and Hussain Bahia. “Low Temperature Cracking Characterization of Asphalt Binders by Means of the Single-Edge Notch Bending (SENB) Test” Journal of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, Volume 80, 2011, pp 583-614
  18. Sang Soo Kim. Asphalt Binder Cracking Device to Reduce Low Temperature Asphalt Pavement Cracking. Federal Highway Administration Highways for LIFE Technology Partnerships Program Final Report FHWA-HIF-11-029, 2010, 36p  Phase I Report:
  19. Sang Soo Kim. Development of an Asphalt Binder Cracking Device. NCHRP-IDEA 99 Program Project Final Report, 2007, 38p
  20. Sang-Soo Kim, Zachary D Wysong, and Jonathan Kovach. “Low-Temperature Thermal Cracking of Asphalt Binder by Asphalt Binder Cracking Device”  Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Issue 1962, 2006, pp 28-35
  21. Sang-Soo Kim. “Direct Measurement of Asphalt Binder Thermal Cracking” Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, Volume 17 Issue 6, pp 632-639. 2005