Stochastic micromechanical model of the deterioration of asphalt mixtures subject to moisture diffusion processes
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The deleterious effect of moisture in the microstructure of asphalt mixtures, usually referred to as moisture damage, has been recognized as a main cause of early deterioration of asphalt pavements. The initiation and evolution of moisture-related deterioration is strongly influenced by the internal air void structure of asphalt mixtures. Despite its importance, the majority of works conducted on the micromechanical modeling of asphalt mixtures overlook the role of the air void structure, mainly because of its high complexity and variability. This paper explores the influence of air void variability on the performance of asphalt mixtures subjected to moisture diffusion processes. A stochastic modeling technique based on random field theory was used to generate internal distributions of physical and mechanical properties of the asphalt matrix of the mixture that depend on probable air voids distributions. The analysis was conducted by means of a coupled numerical micromechanical model of moisture damage. The results showed that the variability and distribution of air voids are decisive in determining the moisture-dependent performance of asphalt mixtures. Furthermore, it was also shown that a stochastic characterization of the diverse air void configurations is a feasible and useful approach to better represent and understand mechanically related deterioration processes in asphalt mixtures. 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.