Experimental and Computational Investigations of High-Density Asphalt Mixtures


Mihai Marasteanu, Jia-Liang Le, Kimberly Hill, Tianhao Yan, Teng Man, Mugurel Turos, Manik Barman, Uma Arepalli, Jared Munch

October 2019

Report no. MnDOT 2019-41

Compaction of asphalt mixtures represents a critical step in the construction process that significantly affects the performance and durability of asphalt pavements. In this research effort, the compaction process of asphalt mixtures was investigated using a combined experimental and computational approach. The primary goal was to understand the main factors responsible for achieving good density and was triggered by the success of a recently proposed Superpave 5 mix design method. First, a two-scale discrete element method (DEM) model was developed to simulate the compaction process of asphalt mixtures. The computational model was anchored by a fluid dynamics-discrete element model, which is capable of capturing the motion of aggregates in the viscous binder. The model was then calibrated and validated by a series of experiments, which included rheological tests of the binder and a compaction test of the mixture. It was concluded that the compaction process was significantly influenced by the rheological properties of the fine aggregate matrix and by the sphericity of the coarse aggregates. Finally, the mechanical properties of two high-density mixtures were determined and compared with mechanical properties of mixtures used for MnROAD 2017 National road Research Alliance (NRRA) test sections. It was found that the properties of high-density mixtures as a group were not significantly different compared to the properties of conventional mixtures.

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