Numerical analysis of moisture vapor diffusion in asphalt mixtures using digital images
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The presence of moisture in asphalt mixtures is detrimental to their performance, e.g., softening the asphalt binder and weakening the aggregate-binder bond. One of the mechanisms of moisture transport, and the focus of this study, is molecular diffusion. Moisture diffusion occurs in response to a concentration gradient. The objective of this study was to estimate the diffusion coefficient of moisture vapor in asphalt mixtures by using finite element (FE) and finite difference (FD) numerical algorithms that employ digital images to discretize the composite. X-ray computed tomography was used to characterize the microstructure of laboratoryprepared specimens and provide the required threedimensional digital images, which were segmented into three phases: air voids, a mixture of asphalt binder and the fine aggregate fraction, and coarse aggregates. Individual diffusion coefficients were assigned to each phase and the effective diffusion coefficient for the composite was computed using the numerical algorithms. The outcome was compared against experimental values. The effective diffusion coefficient for the asphalt mixtures obtained using the FD method showed closer agreement with the experimental data, while the FE results overestimated the experimental measurements in all cases. RILEM 2009.