About the research
Asphalt pavements suffer various failures due to insufficient quality within their design lives. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) has been proposed to improve pavement quality through quantitative performance prediction. Evaluation of the actual performance (quality) of pavements requires in situ nondestructive testing (NDT) techniques that can accurately measure the most critical, objective, and sensitive properties of pavement systems. The purpose of this study is to assess existing as well as promising new NDT technologies for quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) of asphalt mixtures. Specifically, this study examined field measurements of density via the PaveTracker electromagnetic gage, shear-wave velocity via surface-wave testing methods, and dynamic stiffness via the Humboldt GeoGauge for five representative paving projects covering a range of mixes and traffic loads. The in situ tests were compared against laboratory measurements of core density and dynamic modulus. The in situ PaveTracker density had a low correlation with laboratory density and was not sensitive to variations in temperature or asphalt mix type. The in situ shear-wave velocity measured by surface-wave methods was most sensitive to variations in temperature and asphalt mix type. The in situ density and in situ shear-wave velocity were combined to calculate an in situ dynamic modulus, which is a performance-based quality measurement. The in situ GeoGauge stiffness measured on hot asphalt mixtures several hours after paving had a high correlation with the in situ dynamic modulus and the laboratory density, whereas the stiffness measurement of asphalt mixtures cooled with dry ice or at ambient temperature one or more days after paving had a very low correlation with the other measurements. To transform the in situ moduli from surface-wave testing into quantitative quality measurements, a QC/QA procedure was developed to first correct the in situ moduli measured at different field temperatures to the moduli at a common reference temperature based on master curves from laboratory dynamic modulus tests. The corrected in situ moduli can then be compared against the design moduli for an assessment of the actual pavement performance. A preliminary study of micro-electromechanical systems- (MEMS)-based sensors for QC/QA and health monitoring of asphalt pavements was also performed.