A Microstructure-Based Modeling Approach to Characterize Asphalt Materials

SPONSOR:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

PI: Zhanping You

The short-term goals of this integrated research and education activities within the project period include: 1) development of a microstructure-based discrete element modeling approach to characterize asphalt materials; 2) implementation of the model to evaluate asphalt material response and performance to improve pavement structural design; 3) integration of the proposed research activities into the educational programs for high school students, K-12 educators, and undergraduate and graduate students, and; 4) dissemination of the research results through publications, conferences, and professional development for practicing professionals. The long-term goals are to: 1) establish a multi-user research and education center for asphalt material and virtual testing by integrating the proposed advanced modeling approach, and; 2) implement advanced technologies into pavement materials, locally through the Michigan Department of Transportation, and broadly through research collaborators and industry partners. This project will: 1) advance the understanding of asphalt pavement materials and pavement structures; 2) increase collaboration among researchers at many leading institutions and industries; 3) enhance scientific and technological understanding of micromechanical aspects of pavement infrastructure, and; 4) significantly reduce the cost of pavement infrastructure construction and maintenance. The development and application of the microstructure-based discrete element model in asphalt materials will enhance understanding by correlating material behavior to pavement performance.

The research will translate directly into improved asphalt mixture design and pavement thickness design. This in turn should create substantial cost savings. A one-percent decrease in asphalt concrete life-cycle cost would amount to approximately $500 million in U.S. Federal government savings alone. Activities are planned to advance discovery and understanding of asphalt pavement infrastructure materials while promoting teaching, training, and learning through specific activities for K-12 students and teachers, undergraduate and graduate engineering and science majors, and practicing engineers.

Zhanping You
Zhanping You