Gradation-Based Framework for Asphalt Mixtures

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Asphalt mixture microstructure is formed by aggregates, bitumen binder and air voids. Aggregates make for up to 90% of the mixtures volume and the structure formed by them will depend mostly on their size distribution and shape. The study presented in this thesis has as main objective to develop a framework that allows the characterization of asphalt mixtures based on the aggregates gradation and its impact on pavement performance. Moreover, the study aims to identify the range of aggregate sizes which form the load carrying structure, called Primary Structure, and determine its quality.The method has been developed as a numerical procedure based on packing theory of spheres. Parameters like porosity, coordination number and disruption factor of the Primary Structure; and a binder distribution parameter for the different sub-structures have been used to evaluate the quality of the load carrying structure and predict the impact on several failure modes. The distribution of bitumen binder has been derived from a geometrical model which relates porosity of the mixture with film thickness of particles considering the overlapping reduction as the film grows. The model obtained is a closer approximation to a physical characteristic of the compacted mixture separated according to different elements of the structure.The framework has been evaluated on several field and laboratory mixtures and predictions have been made about their rutting performance and moisture resistance. The calculated parameters have compared favourably with the performances reported from the field and laboratory testing. The developed gradation analysis framework has proven to be a tool to identify those mixtures with a poor rutting performance based on the gradation of the aggregates.The Gradation - Based Framework has satisfactory distinguished between good and bad performance of asphalt mixtures when related to permanent deformation and moisture damage. The calculated parameters have allowed identifying and understanding the main mechanisms and variables involved in permanent deformation and moisture damage of asphalt mixtures. The developed model can be used as a tool to determine the optimal gradation to assure good performance for hot mix asphalt pavements.