Quantitative characterization of microstructure of asphalt mixtures to evaluate fatigue crack growth
MetadataShow full item record
Studies show that the microstructure of the fine aggregate matrix has a significant influence on the mechanical properties and evolution of damage in an asphalt mixture. However, very little work has been done to quantitatively characterize the microstructure of the asphalt binder within the fine aggregate matrix of asphalt mixtures. The first objective of this study was to quantitatively characterize the three dimensional microstructure of the asphalt binder within the fine aggregate matrix (FAM) of an asphalt mixture and compare the influence of binder content, coarse aggregate gradation, and fine aggregate gradation on this microstructure. Studies indicate that gradation of the fine aggregate has the most influence of the degree of anisotropy whereas gradation of the coarse aggregate has the most influence on the direction anisotropy of the asphalt mastic within the fine aggregate matrix. Addition of asphalt binder or adjustments to the fine aggregate gradation also resulted in a more uniform distribution of the asphalt mastic within the fine aggregate matrix. The second objective of this study was to compare the internal microstructure of the mortar within a full-scale asphalt mixture to the internal microstructure of the FAM specimen and also conduct a limited evaluation of the influence of mixture properties and methods of compaction on the engineering properties of the FAM specimens. Fatigue cracking is a significant form of pavement distress in flexible pavements. The properties of the sand-asphalt mortars or FAM can be used to characterize the evolution of fatigue crack growth and self-healing in full-scale asphalt mixtures. The results from this study, although limited in number, indicate that in most cases the SGC (Superpave Gyratory Compactor) compacted FAM specimen had a microstructure that most closely resembled the microstructure of the mortar within a full-scale asphalt mixture. Another finding from this study was that, at a given level of damage, the healing characteristic of the three different types of FAM mixes evaluated was not significantly different. This indicates that the healing rate is mostly dictated by the type of binder and not significantly influenced by the gradation or binder content, as long as the volumetric distribution of the mastic was the same.