Mechanical evaluation of aggregate gradation to characterize load carrying capacity and rutting resistance of asphalt mixtures Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019 Elsevier Ltd The gradation and mechanical properties of aggregates impressively affect the load carrying capacity and rutting resistance of asphalt mixtures. They are able to provide some fundamental parameters that are linked to mixture performance. In order to accurately detect critical controlled sizes and obtain more fundamental parameters that can characterize load carrying capacity and rutting resistance of asphalt mixtures, this paper aims to develop a mechanics-based approach to evaluate aggregate gradation, which contains the theoretical packing analysis and discrete element simulation. An extended theoretical morphology framework is developed by checking the local and global interlock of graded aggregates in the theoretical packing analysis. The sieve size range of primary structure which has an interactive interlock can be determined in the local interlock check model. The relationship between the transferred force and the induced force is proposed in the densest and loosest packing arrangements, respectively. The morphological parameters of disruption factor and weighted average size for the global scale are also proposed in theoretical packing analysis. Then the discrete element method is used to validate the theoretical framework. The advanced gradation input algorithm procedure is established in the discrete element simulation to simulate the compression test of graded aggregates. The mechanical parameters of contact force, contact points and stressstrain curves are extracted from the simulation results. The results show that the discrete element method can validate the theoretical framework and output the performance related parameters. The contact force analysis shows that the aggregates retaining on sieve sizes of 2.36 and 4.75 mm provide more than 50% contribution to resist load, and the aggregates retaining on sieve sizes of 1.18, 0.6 and 0.3 mm provide more than 50% contribution to stabilize the structure. The coordination number analysis suggests that the gradation with more fine aggregates might lead to a greater number of voids but smaller air-void size when the asphalt content and porosity remain constant. The stressstrain curve analysis shows that the modulus and secondary strain are highly related to the rutting performance of an asphalt mixture.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., Luo, X., Onifade, I., Huang, X., Lytton, R. L., & Birgisson, B.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Yao||Luo, Xue||Onifade, Ibrahim||Huang, Xiaoming||Lytton, Robert L||Birgisson, Bjorn

publication date

  • April 2019