Evaluation of Superpave Fine Aggregate Angularity Specification
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The validity of the Superpave fine aggregate angularity (FAA) requirement is questioned by both the owner agencies and the paving and aggregate industries. The FAA test is based on the assumption that more fractured faces will result in higher void content in the loosely compacted sample; however, this assumption is not always true. Some agencies have found that cubical shaped particles, even with 100 percent fractured faces, may not meet the FAA requirement for high-volume traffic. State agencies are concerned that local materials, previously considered acceptable and which have provided good field performance, cannot meet the Superpave requirements. Researchers evaluated angularity of 23 fine aggregates representing most types of paving aggregates used in the USA using seven different procedures: FAA test, direct shear test, compacted aggregate resistance (CAR) test, three different image analyses, and visual inspection. The three image analyses techniques included Hough Transform at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), unified image analysis at Washington State University (WSU), and VDG-40 videograder at Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC). A small study was performed to evaluate relative rutting resistance of HMA containing fines with different particle shape parameters using the Asphalt Pavement Analyzer (APA). The FAA test method does not consistently identify angular, cubical aggregates as high quality materials. There is a fair correlation between the CAR stability value and angle of internal friction (AIF) from the direct shear test. No correlation was found between FAA and CAR stability or between FAA and AIF. Fairly good correlations were found between FAA and all three image analysis methods. Some cubical crushed aggregates with FAA values less than 45 gave very high values of CAR stability, AIF, and ‘angularity’ from imaging techniques. Moreover, the three image analysis methods exhibited good correlation among themselves. A statistical analysis of the SHRP-LTPP (Strategic Highway Research Program-Long-Term Pavement Performance) database revealed no significant evidence relationship between FAA and rutting. This lack of relationship is not surprising since many uncontrolled factors contribute to pavement rutting. The APA study revealed that FAA is not sensitive to rut resistance of HMA mixtures. Image analysis methods appear promising for measuring fine aggregate angularity. Until a suitable replacement method(s) for FAA can be identified, the authors recommend that the FAA criteria be lowered from 45 to 43 for 100 percent crushed aggregate. Analysis of the FAA versus rutting data should be examined later as the amount of data in the SHRP-LTTP database is expanded.