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SUPERPAVE: A Brand New Promising

Method of Asphalt Concrete Design


1 WHY TO USE SUPERPAVE DESIGN METHOD?
SUPERPAVE stands for Superior Performance Asphalt Pavements. It is a new asphalt mix design method
which was proposed by the Strategic Highway Research Program so as to improve the performance and
durability of United State roads, as well as improving the users safety. The use of asphalt materials in
pavement applications has widely increased in the last century and as a consequence, so have the design
methods. Three remarkable design methods have been thoroughly applied through the years:
1. The Hubbard-Field Method: Developed in the decade of 1920, it was created for asphalt mixtures
with 100 percent passing the Sieve number 4 and then modified to include coarse aggregate. The
strength of the mixture was measured by means of a punching-type shear load test.
2. Hveem Mix Design: method created in de decade of 1930. The method of strength measurement
consist on study the ability of the asphalt concrete to resist lateral movement under vertical load
applications. Created by the California Department of Highways Materials and Design Engineering,
it is still used in some western states.
3. Marshall mix Design: Developed by the Mississippi State Highway Department for designing of
airfield pavements. The main features that this design provides is the density analysis (voids in
the mixture) and the stability/flow test. The Marshall design method was the most used
methodology in United States. It is widely used in several countries as Colombia.
Not only the AASHTO road tests conducted between 1958 and 1962 set the bases to the AASHTO 1993
design method of pavement structural design, they also provided a general view of the asphalt concrete
performance under several weather and load conditions. However, it did not fit every condition and
results were extrapolated.
The Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) goal was to provide a system to relate the characteristic
of hot asphalt mix components to the performance and structural behavior of the pavement. Despite of
the fact that asphalt mixtures and their components have been generally tested with empirical procedures,
field testing was necessary to assure that the laboratory analysis implied satisfactory pavement
performance. The Superpave assessment of pavement structures is based in overcome the three main
distresses of the asphalt mixtures in service: rutting, fatigue cracking, and low temperature cracking.
The Superpave system includes a specification for hot asphalt mixtures based on the asphalt binder
physical properties, aggregate tests and specifications, a HMA design and analysis system and a computer
software to integrate its components. However, field measurement is still necessary so as to ensure a
satisfactory performance.
One of the revolutionary features of the Superpave design method is the capability of testing at
temperatures and aging conditions that more adequately represents the service conditions of the exposed
asphalt concrete layer in a pavement. Another feature of the methodology is the concept of Performance

Grade (PG) of an asphalt binder, which classifies the binder according not only by its characteristics, but
also by its performance under certain expected climatic conditions, pretending to reduce pavement
distresses.
The Superpave methodology of design can be briefly described by means of four processes:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Material selection,
Design of the aggregate structure,
Design of the binder content, and
Moisture sensitivity tests.

The Superpave mix design procedure involves a carefully material selection as well as a cautious
volumetric proportioning in order to give a first approach to produce a mixture that perform successfully.

2 IMPROVEMENT OF HMA PERFORMANCE


Improvement of pavement performance not only requires a dense understanding of the mechanistic
behavior of each component that compounds a hot mix asphalt, but also how they behave as a whole mix.
Both the individual properties and the mix properties do affect the pavement performance during the
mixing, construction and service.

2.1 MECHANICAL ASPHALT BEHAVIOR


Asphalt binder is a viscoelastic material. It possesses properties of both viscous and elastic materials. This
exhibited property highly depends on temperature and loading time, this means that the effects of time
and temperature are related: the behavior at high temperatures with short time periods is equivalent to
the behavior at lower temperatures and longer periods of time.

() = +
() = + (,)

(,)

= = (,)

() = + (,)

+
() = 0
(,)

+ () = 0

In hot conditions or under sustained loads, the asphalt mixture tends to behave as a viscous material. It
shows the properties of a liquid and flows. The viscosity, which is used to describe the resistance of liquids
to flow, is used as a description of the asphalt binder. When designing a mixture, viscosity defines the
mixing and compacting temperatures.
Viscous liquids are also understood as plastic materials since when they start flowing, they do not return
to their original position and experience a permanent strain. However, it is more correct to say that and
asphalt mixture behaves like a plastic, more than the asphalt binder. The viscous behavior is partially
responsible of permanent rutting.
On the other hand, in cold climates or under rapid loading, the asphalt mixture shows the behavior of an
elastic solid and any strain is completely recovered. Nevertheless, elastic materials can break under high
load applications. Asphalt mixtures can become brittle when exposed to low temperatures. Not only can
they shrink, generating accumulated internal stresses (low temperature cracking), but also they can
experience fatigue cracking under high repeated loads.
Despite of the fact that the previously exposed behavior occurs on extreme temperature conditions, most
environmental conditions lie between hot and cold situations and the asphalt mixture shows the behavior
of both viscous and elastic materials. Owing to its range of temperature-related behavior, asphalt binder
is a very suitable material to use as an adhesive in paving. However, it may be difficult to explain and
understand. The principle that rules the response of the pavement resembles an automobile shock
absorbing system, which consist on a spring and a liquid filled cylinder. The spring (elastic behavior) tries
to return the car to its original position after a bump whereas the liquid in the cylinder dampens the
reaction to it.
The elastic behavior is due to the aggregate and the asphalt. The viscous behavior (plastic behavior) is due
to the asphalt, particularly in warmer conditions. In spite of the fact that most of the response is elastic

or viscoelastic and can be recovered with time, some of the response turns out to be plastic and nonrecoverable.

2.2 AGING ASPHALT BEHAVIOR


Since asphalt cements are composed from organic molecules of the petroleum, a reaction with oxygen
from the air is likely to occur. Oxidation may change the structure and composition of asphalt molecules,
causing the asphalt mixture to become brittle. This phenomena is known as oxidative hardening or age
hardening.
In practice, a sizeable amount of oxidation occurs before the construction and asphalt placement. During
the placement procedure, the asphalt covers the surface of the aggregate in thin films, expediting the
oxidation. Short term aging is used to describe this reaction.
Aging hardening of the mixture can also occur during service when exposed to air and water. Despite of
the fact that this long term aging occurs at a very low rate, it may give way to cracking distresses, especially
in old asphalt cements.
Several types of hardening may be distinguished as well. Volatilization and physical hardening can alter
the asphalt pavement properties. Volatilization occurs when mixing and placing the asphalt cement, in
which the volatile components of the asphalt evaporate. The physical hardening occurs when asphalt is
exposed to low temperatures for long periods. It is more pronounced when temperatures are below 0C.
B INDER P ROPERTY M EASUREMENTS OF THE S UPERPAVE
One of the goals of the Superpave methodology was to be able to describe the asphalt binder with physical
properties that can be directly related to field performance. Since some of the tests that are currently
used to describe the binder does not have a physical meaning and are basically empirical, a result may not
be suitable for predicting the performance of an asphalt cement and experience is required so as to obtain
meaningful information. The penetration and viscosity asphalt specifications used as a mean to describe
the asphalt properties can classify different asphalt with the same grading, even when this asphalts have
different performance and temperature-related peculiarities.
The tests of the Superpave design method are listed below. A brief explanation of their purpose will be
described posteriorly.
Superpave Binder Test
Dynamic Shear Rheometer (DSR)
Rotational Viscometer (RV)
Bending Beam Rheometer (BBR)
Direct Tension Tester (DTT)
Rolling Thin Film Oven (RTFO)
Pressure Aging Vessel (PAV)

Purpose
Measure properties at high and
intermediate temperatures
Measure properties at high
temperatures
Measure properties at low
temperatures
Simulate hardening characteristics

2.3 MINERAL AGGREGATE BEHAVIOR


Several type of materials can be used as aggregate to produce hot mix asphalt. Some materials are called
natural, bank-run, or pit-run aggregates. It is due to the fact that they are mined from river or glacial
deposits, and generally the do not experiment any further process to create a mixture. On the other hand,
processed aggregate includes several classes of materials. Since natural aggregate which has been sieved
and separated by size, washed and crushed, to treated aggregate to enhance certain performance levels
of the mixture. Certain aggregates that are not mined nor quarried are called synthetic aggregates and
they mostly represent industrial by-products.
It has been seen lately that the use of recycled and waste materials has increased. Existing HMA can be
recycled to produce new pavements. Reclaimed Asphalt Pavements (RAP) is a growing alternative used to
obtain aggregate. The used of waste materials like scrap tires and glass has been increased as well.
Nevertheless, some designers consider that the performance might be sacrificed in order to eliminate a
waste aggregate and prefer not to use them.
Aggregate is expected to provide to the asphalt concrete a strong stone skeleton to resist repeated load
applications, disregarding its source and mineralogy. Despite of the fact that rounded, smooth-texture
and cubical, rough-texture aggregate could have the same inherent resistance, the second ones provide
a better structure since they tend to lock together instead of slide between particles. Interlocked
aggregate particles provide a strong structure, capable of resist shear stress through the asphalt mixture.
Aggregate shear strength is momentous in HAM.
= + tan

While a mass of aggregate has little or no cohesion at all, the asphalt binder contributes to it holding the
particles together. The shear strength is chiefly dependent on the degree of aggregate interlocking.
Moreover, when loaded, the mass of aggregate transmits higher normal stresses which increases the
resistance of the whole solid skeleton, creating a bulk of aggregate almost as strong as an individual piece.
2.3.1 Mineral Aggregate Property Measurements in Superpave Design Method
It was agreed on the SHRP research program results that the properties of the aggregate play a leading
role in outrival the permanent deformation of the asphalt concrete and the whole pavement structure
whereas the low temperature and fatigue cracking are not abruptly dependent on the aggregate. Two
property categories were defined to be used in the pavement system: Consensus properties and Source

Properties. Specifications for the aggregate gradation were developed so as to ensure a satisfactory design
aggregate structure.
C ONSENSUS P ROPERTIES
Several pavement experts reached a consensus about certain aggregate characteristics that are
considered critical for a satisfactory asphalt concrete performance. Their use and threshold values were
defined by expertise, which depend on traffic level and position within the pavement. These properties
are listed below.
1.
2.
3.
4.

Coarse aggregate angularity,


Fine Aggregate angularity,
Flat, elongated particles, and
Clay content.

The required values are stricter when the aggregate is closer to the surface and the traffic levels are higher.
This properties are applied to the design aggregate blend rather than every component by their own.
However, some designers are likely to describe every aggregate component of an aggregate blend.
S OURCE P ROPERTIES
A set of source properties was recommended since other characteristics of the aggregate particles were
critical for a satisfactory pavement design, being source specific. These properties are listed below.
1. Toughness,
2. Soundness, and
3. Deleterious materials.
2.3.2 Gradation
The Superpave design method uses a modification of an approach used by some companies. It consist on
graphing the gradation on a 0.45 power chart to define a permissible gradation in which some specific
requirements and properties are defined and delimitate the threshold values for a satisfactory aggregate
blend design. One of the features of the 0.45 power chart is the maximum density gradation, which is a
straight line from the origin to the maximum aggregate size.
The Superpave design method uses a set of sieves as described by the ASTM standards. The following
definitions are used to describe the particle size:
1. Maximum size of the aggregate: one sieve larger than the nominal maximum size, and
2. Nominal maximum size: one sieve larger than the first sieve to retain more than 10 percent
The maximum density gradation represents a gradation in which the particles fit together in the densest
possible structure. This arrangement of aggregate is not desirable since the space between particles would
be so little that sufficient thick asphalt films will not be developed so as to ensure a durable mixture.
Control points and restricted zones are defined as well. Control points determine master ranges the
gradation curve must pass through. They are defined for the nominal maximum size, an intermediate size
(2.36 mm or N.8) and the dust size (0.075 mm or N.200). The restricted zone is defined along the maximum
density gradation, between an intermediate size (4.75 or 2.36 mm) and a small size (0.3 mm or N.50).
When a gradation pass through the restricted zone, it is known as a bumped gradation and it indicates a

mixture that possesses too much fine sand as a percentage of total sand. This gradation generates
tenderer mixtures that are not easily compacted in construction and may reduce the resistance of the
mixture to permanent deformation owing to the fact that the skeleton of the mixture tends to be weak
and the sensitivity to asphalt binder content increases dramatically, which easily becomes plastic.

A satisfactory design aggregate structure that meets the requirement of the Superpave design method
lies between the control points and avoid the restricted zone. The Superpave design method recognizes
five aggregate blends according to their size.
Superpave Mixture
Designation
37.5 mm 1 in
25 mm 1 in
19 mm 3/4
12.5 mm
9.5 mm

Nominal
Maximum
Size (in)
1
1

3/8

Maximum
Size (in)
2
1
1

2.4 ASPHALT MIXTURE BEHAVIOR


When the asphalt pavement is subjected to a wheel load, two principal stresses are transmitted within
the mix structure: vertical compressive stress throughout the asphalt concrete, and horizontal tensile
stress at the bottom of the asphalt layer. The asphalt mixture must be resilient and have enough strength
to resist the compressive stress and guard against permanent deformation. In the same way, the asphalt

concrete must be strong enough to resist tensile stresses and be resilient so as to withstand several load
applications without fatigue cracking. The capability of resist the temperature-related stresses caused by
extreme environmental conditions is also desirable. In order to understand the asphalt mixture behavior
the three main stresses of the asphalt pavement must be comprehend.
2.4.1 Permanent Deformation
The permanent deformation is a distress characterized by a surface cross section in which the position of
the particles is no longer in the design. The permanent deformation is an accumulation of small amounts
of plastic deformation that occurs each time a load is applied. Wheel path rutting is the most common
distress of permanent deformation. In spite of the fact that rutting may have several provenances (e.g.
HMA weakened by high moisture contents, traffic frequency increments and abrasion), it has two main
sources.
On one hand, the rutting is caused by too much repeated stress applied to the layers below the asphalt
concrete layer. This is a structural problem more than a material quality problem, especially related to
insufficient thickness of the layers or increase of moisture. Thus, the rutting occurs throughout the whole
pavement structure rather than the asphalt concrete layer. On the other hand, the rutting may occur due
to the lack of shear strength of the asphalt mixture, which is caused by a low strength of the asphalt binder
and its interaction with the solid aggregate skeleton and a low internal friction. As a consequence, the
rutting appears in the asphalt layer. This kind of rutting occurs especially when the pavement is exposed
to high temperatures. Not only is it desirable for the asphalt binder to provide enough cohesion to the
aggregate particles, but also to behave more like a stiffer elastic solid when exposed to high pavement
temperatures.

Another way to ensure a satisfactory performance under wheel loads, and specifically the shear strength
is to select an aggregate blend composed by cubical, rough-textured particles. When a good interlocking
is achieved, the aggregate skeleton behaves as a single elastic stone. The asphalt binder causes the
concrete to perform as a rubber band under load application and the permanent deformation might be
highly decreased.

2.4.2 Fatigue Cracking.


When the applied loads overstress the asphalt concrete, it is said that the fatigue cracking occurs. It is
recognized because of the several intermittent longitudinal cracks in the wearing course. This kind of
distress is progressive owing to the fact that the initial cracks joint at some point of the service time and
the generated stresses cause more cracks. When the distress is in an advance state of fatigue it is called
Alligator Cracking, characterized by transverse cracking intersecting with the longitudinal cracks. Severe
damaged is observed when a pothole is formed due to dislodge of asphalt pieces.
Fatigue cracking may be caused by several factors taking place simultaneously. They include repeated
heavy loads, insufficient layer thicknesses or weak underlying layers. These abnormalities make the
asphalt pavement susceptible to high deflections which increase the tensile stresses within the asphalt
concrete. Poor hydraulic design or the lack of it, and under designed structures can promote fatigue
cracking as well.

In spite of the fact that the fatigue cracking can be caused by an unsatisfactory design, it is often a sign
that a pavement has been exposed to the design number of loads. In this case, the solution results to be
a planned rehabilitation. Nevertheless, this distress should start to be noticeable at the end of the period
design. If it appears much sooner than expected, it might be caused by an underestimated design number
of traffic loads.

The implications of the causes exposed previously let see several ways to overcome fatigue damage:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Adequate count of the design heavy loads,


Ensure that the design has an efficient drainage in order that the subgrade is dry,
Use ticker pavements,
Use paving materials that in presence of moisture are not severe weakened, and
Use asphalt concrete that when submitted to load can withdraw normal deflections as well as
resist tensile stresses (resilient materials).

So as to ensure that the asphalt layers performance under tensile stress is satisfactory, it is advisable to
set limits for the stiffness of the asphalt cement since this component is responsible of the HMA tensile
behavior. Soft asphalts have better fatigue properties than hard asphalts and they provide a soft elastic
material behavior to the concrete when the pavement is under loading.
2.4.3 Low Temperature Cracking
When adverse environmental conditions are present during the service period of the pavement, in which
the temperature decreases drastically and jeopardize the structure performance, it is said that low
temperature cracking occurs. In spite of the fact that this kind of distress may occur when rapid load
applications take place over the pavement and its temperature is too low, it is not necessary for the
pavement to be subjected to loading so as to crack.
Low temperature cracks often form when asphalt concrete shrinks due to cold weather, this generates
tensile stresses throughout the asphalt layer eventually, this tensile stresses exceed the tensile strength
and there is failure of the pavement. Depending of the environmental conditions, the cracking can appear
on the pavement from a single cycle of low temperature.
The asphalt concrete capability to resist tensile stresses due to extremely low temperatures is highly
dependent on the asphalt binder properties. Hard binders are more likely to present low temperature
cracking than soft binders. Aged binders, due to the fact that they are bally susceptible to oxidation and
therefore hardening, are prone to present this kind of distress.
Thereby, so as to overcome low temperature cracking, it is recommendable to select a soft binder that is
not overmuch prone to aging. It is also recommended to set strict controls on the air voids of the asphalt
concrete to diminish the effect of oxidation.

3 DESIGN METHOD FEATURES.


Before the Superpave design method, the Marshall Mix design method was by far the most common
procedure used in the design of asphalt concrete mixtures to be implemented in construction. It is still
used in countries as Colombia and is still taught in several superior studies institutions. The procedure of
this method is pointed to develop a satisfactory and suitable asphalt concrete mixture using stability/flow
and density/voids testing, which are two of the features that give strength to the Marshall Design method.
By means of the entailed process, a control of mixture volumetric properties can be accomplished and
therefore, durable HMA concretes can be achieved. Nevertheless, it is considered that the impact
compaction of the mixture, as part of the procedure, does not reflect nor simulate the executed
densification in the construction process. Moreover, the stability/flow test does not reflect the shear

strength of the asphalt concrete. Thus, the rutting resistant is difficult to ensure by means of the Marshall
procedure.
Notwithstanding that the Marshall Design method is amply used in several countries, the Hveem method
shares some of its features. Firstly, the density/void analyses can be carried out. Moisture sensitiveness
can be determined as well by means of measuring the swelling. The perks of this method locate in that it
is the laboratory kneading method simulates the compaction conditions during construction.
Nevertheless, part of the volumetric properties that are related to the performance and concrete
durability are not determined. Moreover, it is considered that this design method may be overly subjective
and non-durable mixes are often determined as a design mixture.

3.1 SUPERPAVE ASPHALT CONCRETE DESIGN


The wedges of the Superpave design procedure are the laboratory compaction and tests to determine
mechanical properties. The compaction is executed with a Superpave Gyratory Compactor (SGC), which
keeps similarities with the Texas gyratory compactor. The SGC is used to create test samples and with
data capture during compaction, it is possible to perceive the compactibility of a mixture.
Since the asphalt concrete layer performance are highly influenced by the hot mixing and construction,
the procedure of the Superpave design method incorporates an asphalt short-term aging protocol which
requires a treatment of oven aging during 4 hours at 135C preceding the compaction.
Outputs from the tests could be useful to produce elaborate predictions of the pavement performance.
Not only will it be possible to predict the performance of an asphalt concrete in terms of traffic loads
(ESAL), but also to predict probable levels of distress occurrence. This allows to the designer to develop a
cost-benefit analysis associated to a design mixture and to take decisions.
Two brand new testing devices were developed: the Superpave Shear Tester (SST) and the Indirect Tensile
Tester (IDT). By means of the tests carried out with the Superpave new equipment, it is possible to find
direct indications of mix mechanical performance, estimating the combined effect of binder, aggregate
and mixture proportions; and to generate inputs for performance prediction models, which include
properties like structure, condition and expected traffic loads. The Superpave design method then
becomes a powerful tool for the pavement designer, capable of link material properties with pavement
structural properties and predict future performance.

3.2 SUPERPAVE BINDER TESTS


3.2.1 Aging Methods
One of the features of the Superpave design method is the capability of developing tests that simulate
essential stages during the asphalts life: Firstly, during transport, storage and manipulation, secondly,
during mixing and construction, and thirdly, during service period.
Tests performed under unaged asphalt represent the first stage of the asphalt binder. The second stage
is simulated in a Rolling Thin Film Oven (RTFO) and the procedure can be found on the ASSHTO T-240
(ASTM D 2872). The aims of this tests are to expose thin binder films to heat and air conditions that
simulate mixing and placement.

The third stage of asphalt aging is simulated by means of a Pressure Aging Vessel (PAV), which exposes
the binder to heat and pressure conditions so as to observe the result of years of service in a matter of
hours. The binder samples tested in the PAV are required to have been tested in the RTFO previously. The
PAV binder remnant reflects the characteristics that an asphalt binder is subjected to during production
and in-service.
R OLLING T HIN F ILM O VEN (RTFO)
The RTFO procedure is detailed in AASHTO T 240. It requires the use of an electrically heated oven which
consist on a vertical circular carriage with 8 holes to accommodate the sample bottles. It is designed to
rotate while working and to blow air into each bottle by means of an air jet.
The preparation of the binder specimens starts with pouring 35g of asphalt into the bottles, heated
enough to flow but never at 150C or higher. The content of two bottles shall be used to determine mass
loss. The RTFO oven must be preheated at 163C for at least 16 hours prior to the test. Bottles are then
loaded in the carriage, which rotates at 15 rev/min. The air flow shall be shot at a rate of 4000 ml/min.
the RTFO aging takes 85 minutes to be completed. The residue is then poured, but not scraped, from the
bottles to a single container and stirred to ensure homogeneity. This material can be used to run a DSR
test or transferred to PAV pans for further aging.
P RESSURE A GING V ESSEL (PAV)
There are two kinds of pressure aging devices which can be used indiscriminately. Whereas the first type
consist on a stand-alone PAV placed on a temperature chamber, the second type is built as part of it.
Specific equipment and procedure can be found on AASHTO PP1. The PAV is made from stainless steel
and it operates under extreme temperature and pressure conditions (2070 kPa and either 90, 100 or
110 C) and shall accommodate a minimum of 10 pans in a rack. The Vessel must be tightly closed. The
specimens are made from the RTFO residues, the binder shall be heated to a temperature that allows to
extend, pour and stir the asphalt. Each sample must weight 50g. Approximately two bottles of RTFO
residues are necessary to obtain one 50-g PAV test sample.
The vessel is placed in the temperature chamber, unpressurized. It is necessary that the vessel reaches
the desired test temperature. When the samples are stacked in the sample rack and the test temperature
has been achieved, the rack is placed in the hot vessel. When the temperature is within 2C of the
temperature test, pressure shall be applied. After applying the total pressure, the test begins and to be
completed, a period of 20 hours must pass. After slowly releasing the pressure, the pans are removed
from the chamber and placed in an oven at 163C for 30 minutes so as to remove any entrapped air within
the specimens. The places are then stored for further testing.
R OTATIONAL V ISCOMETER (RV)
The rotational viscometer allows to evaluate the binder workability when subjected to high temperatures.
The high temperature viscosity is measured to assure that the fluidity when pumping and mixing is enough.
The Superpave guide strongly recommends to use a Brookfield Apparatus (rotational coaxial cylinder
viscometer, which consist on a motor, spindle, and digital readout) rather than a capillarity viscometer.
The procedure of this test is standardized in AASHTO TP48. This test must be run on unaged asphalt.
According to the Superpave binder specifications, the value must not surpass 3 Pa*s at 135 C. The

viscosity is determined by the rotational torque required to maintain a constant rotational speed at a
constant temperature of the cylinder shaft while submerged in the binder.
Approximately 30 g of binder are required to develop the procedure of a rotational viscosity test and
typically 11 g are used in the test. The sample shall not be heated above 150 C and it must be stirred in
order to eliminate possible entrapped air in the binder. When the asphalt is in the thermo container,
approximately 15 minutes are required to reach a stable temperature throughout the sample and the
container. The spindle generally is set to rotate at 20 rpm. The thermoset consist on a chamber, a thermo
container, and a temperature controller. When the test temperature is achieved, the spindle is lowered
into the binder. The viscosity value should be measured three times with a minute difference between
them, it must be done when the viscosity showed in the equipment screen stabilizes. The test can be
developed at another temperature if desired. The procedure is mainly the same.
D YNAMIC S HEAR R HEOMETER (DSR)
As exposed previously, the binder shows the behavior of a viscoelastic material. In other words, it
simultaneously presents the behavior of an elastic material (fully recoverable strains) and a viscous
material (non-recoverable strains). The relationship between this apparently two non-related behaviors
is used to study the resistance of the asphalt concrete against several distresses such as fatigue cracking
and rutting. Whereas the resistance against the fatigue cracking in achieved when the binder must be
flexible and elastic, the resistance against rutting requires the asphalt to be stiff and elastic. Therefore,
the balance between stiffness and flexibleness is critical for the good performance of the pavement.
The DSR equipment is used to characterize both behaviors (viscous and elastic) and so as to describe them,
it measures the mechanical response properties of a thin asphalt binder layer, subjected to torsional
torque applied by means of an oscillated and a fixed plate. The procedure that describes the standardized
test is found in AASHTO TP5.
The procedure is quite simple, the asphalt binder specimen is placed between the plates. The oscillating
plate starts from point A and moves to point B. from point B the plate moves back, passing point A on the
way to point C. Afterwards, the oscillation goes back to A, completing one cycle.

As the shear stress is applied to the specimen, the DSR measures the response of the binder in terms shear
strain. Whereas the pure elastic materials have an in-phase response (the strain coincide immediately
with the stress application) and the response time lag is zero, a perfect viscous material presents an outof-phase response and there is a time lag between the stress application and the strain occurrence.

When in service period, the asphalt concrete is exposed to temperature conditions in which its
performance has characteristics of both elastic and viscous materials. The relationship between the
applied shear stress and the mechanical response measured in the DSR test describes the complex
behavior of the asphalt binder. Two fundamental properties of the asphalt binder are measured by means
of this test: the complex shear modulus , and the phase angle
=

The complex shear modulus G* can be understood as the total resistance of a material when subjected to
oscillating shear stress. It consist of an elastic component (horizontal axis) and a viscous component
(vertical axis) as showed below. Meanwhile, the phase angle describes the relative addition of
recoverably and non-recoverably strain of the asphalt binder. Despite of the fact that G* and are both
fundamental properties of the mechanical response of the binder, they are highly dependent of the
temperature conditions the asphalt is subjected to. Thereupon, knowing the environmental conditions of
the construction site as well as the traffic conditions is critical to the design and specifically, to interpret
the DSR test results.

In order to calculate the complex shear modulus, the rheometer makes use of the derived equations for
the mechanical response of a pure elastic cylinder subjected to torque along its axis.
=

2
3

Therefore:
=

2
4

Since the properties measured by means of the DSR tests are highly temperature dependent, rheometers
must have a precise temperature controller, accomplished with a circulating air bath or a fluid bath which
normally surrounds the sample with water. In any case, the temperature of the test must not vary more
than 0.1C. Since the calculations are computed by the rheometer, the operator does not need to worry
about them. Nevertheless, since the radius of the specimen is raised to the fourth power, specimen
trimming must be carefully developed. Specimen height must be carefully controlled as well.
The specimen preparation starts with adjusting the gap with a micrometric wheel between the fixed and
the oscillated plates, before the specimen is mounted on the rheometer at the test temperature. The
thickness of the gap depends on the temperature and the aged condition of the binder. Unaged and RTFO
aged asphalt tested at 46C or higher require a gap of 1000 m or 1 mm. PAV aged asphalts, tested in a
range of temperatures from 4 to 40C need a 2000 m or 2mm gap. Two plate diameters are used in the
test. Its selection depends on the temperature: higher test temperatures require a 25 mm spindle whereas
intermediate test temperatures use an 8mm spindle. The binder disk can be formed by directly pouring
asphalt onto the plate or by means of a silicone mold.
The Superpave specifications standardize the rotational speed at 10 rad/sec. Shear strain values (or strain
amplitude) vary from one to 12 percent and it mainly depends on the stiffness of the asphalt binder
specimen at the test temperature. Whereas relatively soft materials (e.g., unaged and RTFO aged asphalt)
are tested at strain values of approximately 12 percent, harder materials (e.g., PAV residues tested at
intermediate temperatures) are tested at strain value of one percent.
To begin the test, the rheometer must be calibrated to achieve the specified shear strain and then, to
maintain the stress level precisely along the testing. To ensure that the binder specimen is conditioned to
the torque application, 10 cycles must be applied before data recollection.

Two properties of the asphalt binder are defined based on the complex shear modulus and the phase
angle: The High Temperature Stiffness (HTS), factor that aims rutting; and the Intermediate Temperature
Stiffness (ITS), factor that addresses fatigue cracking.
=

sin

= sin
B ENDING B EAM R HEOMETER (BBR)
The bending beam rheometer test is used to measure the stiffness of the asphalt binder at low
temperatures. The test uses the engineering elastic beam theory to determine the rigidity of a specimen
under application of a creep load which simulates the stresses that build up in the pavement when the
temperature decreases. Two parameter are used to describe the binder beam behavior when subjected
to creep loading: Creep Stiffness and m-Value. Whereas the creep stiffness describe how the asphalt resist
constant loading, the m-value measures how the asphalt stiffness changes when a load is applied. The
procedure of this test is specified in AASHTO TP1.
The BBR equipment mainly consist on a loading frame, a controlled-temperature bath of ethylene glycol,
methanol, and water, and a control and data acquisition software. The load application is developed with
a blunt-nosed shaft, which applies a constant load at the midpoint of the binder beam supported on its
ends. The loading shaft is enclosed by an air bearing so as to eliminate any frictional resistance. A
deflection transducer is installed so as to measure any change in the beam geometry due to loading.
The beam is created by pouring liquid asphalt onto an aluminum mold, which dimensions must be
6.35x12.7x125 mm. After a cooling period between 45 and 60 minutes, the beams can be unmolded, this
procedure must be made only when the testing procedure is going to be developed, but no more than
three hours must pass between the unmold and the beam testing. So as to unmold the specimens, they
must be cooled in a freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. An ice bath for 30 to 45 seconds can be used as well.
When the beams are ready, the must be temperature conditioned, which is accomplished by placing the
beams into the test bath for an hour. Then the load application can begin.
The operator must apply a pre-testing load of 3 grams to ensure that the beam is correctly placed on the
supports. A 100 grams seating load is immediately applied to the beam for one second. After this step,
the load must be reduced to the pre-testing load for a 20-seconds recovery period. Then a 100-grams load
is applied on the beam for 240 seconds. The deflection of the beam is recorded during this load application.
The deflection measured during this load application is plotted against time to determine the creep
stiffness and the m-value.
So as to obtain the creep stiffness, the software makes use of the following equation:
() =

3
43 (60 )

Where () is the creep stiffness, is the applied load, is the distance between supports, is the beam
width, is the beam thickness, and (60 ) is the deflection measured at 60 seconds. This equation is
taken from the theoretical deflection of a simply-supported beam when subjected to loading in its

midpoint. The creep stiffness is desired to be found after two hours of loading. Nevertheless, it has been
found that by raising the temperature 10C, an equivalent stiffness is found at 60 seconds of loading.

The m-value is calculated automatically by the control software. Nonetheless, it can be measured by
plotting the log creep stiffness against log time. The slope of the generated curve is the m-value at any
time.

D IRECT T ENSION T ESTER (DTT)


The DTT measures the ultimate tensile strain of the asphalt binder under low temperature conditions. The
test can be developed at relatively low temperatures, from -36 to 0C, in which the asphalt exhibits a
brittle behavior. The tests must be developed with specimens made from RTFO and PAV aged binder so
as to measure the performance of in-service asphalt concrete when subjected to extreme environmental
conditions.
The test is performed on a boned-shaped specimen subjected to tension loading at a constant rate of 1
mm/min. The measured strain at failure is the change in length divided by the original effective length.
The failure of the material is defined as the moment in which the tensile stress reaches its maximum value,
and is equal to the applied load divided by the original cross section of the specimen. The procedure of
the test is standardize in AASHTO TP3.

Since the stress-strain behavior of the pavement is highly dependent on the temperature conditions, three
tests must be run so as to describe several mechanical responses of the binder: Brittle, Brittle-Ductile, and
Ductile.

DTT specimens are created on a silicone mold, which allows the fabrication of four bone-shaped binder
specimens to produce one test result. The specimens weight approximately 2 grams and are 100 mm long.
The effective length of the specimen is 27mm. the cross section is 6 mm by 6 mm.
After pouring, trimming, and demolding the specimens, they must be tested within 60 minutes. Specimens
are tested individually. A normal test requires less than a minute from load application to failure. A test is
considered to be successful when fracture, when the behavior is brittle, occurs in the center position of
the specimen. The Superpave specification requires a minimum value of ultimate tensile strain of one
percent.

4 SUPERPAVE ASPHALT BINDER SPECIFICATION


As an intend to improve the performance of asphalt pavements, the Superpave characterizes the asphalt
binder with a complete specification, based on the concept of limiting the potential of the asphalt to

contribute to rutting, low temperature cracking, and fatigue cracking. The specification provides a full
characterization of the physical properties, measured with the Superpave equipment and tests set. The
binder classification is not only used to relate the physical properties to pavement performance, but to
select an appropriate asphalt binder for specific project conditions as well.
Despite of the fact that the physical properties remain constant for all of the performance grades (PG),
the temperatures at which these properties must be achieved highly vary with the environmental
conditions expected for the project in which the asphalt binder will serve.
The selected notation for the PG classification is exposed below:

Where XX is the temperature grade that suitably supports the conditions of an environment in which the
average of the seven maximum pavement temperatures are C and the minimum environmental
condition is . As an example, PG 58-22 is highly used in the state of Wisconsin since it covers the
required temperature-related service conditions. A general review chart of the characterization and
physical property requirements is exposed below.

Several investigation has been furthered in the characterization of binder materials for construction and
available software can be used to provide a guide for the design.

4.1 ADDRESSING SUITABILITY AGAINST ASPHALT CONCRETE DISTRESSES.


4.1.1 Permanent Deformation/Rutting.
As exposed before, the asphalt binder shows a mechanical load-related response of both elastic
(recoverable strains) and viscous (non-recoverable strains) materials. It has also been exposed that the
permanent deformation, or rutting, occurs in the pavement when the non-recoverable response of the
asphalt concrete under action of repeated load and high temperatures accumulates over time. Since this
distress often occurs early in the in-service pavement, the tests run on unaged and RTFO aged materials
are suitable for characterize the performance of the asphalt binder against rutting.
Several requirements are addressed by the Superpave guide on a rutting factor, = / sin , which
represents the high temperature viscous component of the overall stiffness. The must be at least
1.00 kPa for an unaged binder and 2.20 kPa or higher for RTFO aged binders. Binders with lower values
may be too soft to have a satisfactory performance against rutting.
Since high stiffness and elastic properties are desirable for an asphalt binder to resist permanent
deformation, high values and low values are strongly desiderated.

4.1.2 Fatigue Cracking


and are used in the Superpave design guide to describe and characterize the fatigue failure in asphalt
pavements. Fatigue cracking generally occurs under low to moderate temperature conditions and very
often after a service period. The Superpave characterization for fatigue cracking requires tests developed
in RTFO and PAV aged binders. The = sin is a factor related to the performance of the binder
against fatigue. The specification places a maximum of 5000 kPa.
Since the ability to easily recover from several load applications and behave as a soft elastic material is
strongly desirable, binders with low values perform better since they are more elastic and improve
fatigue properties. Nevertheless, it is possible that the ITS value would be so large that both viscous and
elastic parts would become too high and the asphalt binder would no longer be suitable to effectively
resist fatigue cracking.
4.1.3 Low Temperature Cracking.
When the pavement is subjected to low temperatures it tends to shrink. While at the bottom of the layer
the friction with lower layers prevent the particle movement, tensile stresses build in the upper part of
the asphalt concrete layer. When this stresses overcome the tensile strength of the asphalt mixture, low
temperature cracks appear, which is a very difficult distress to alleviate. The BBR test is used to describe
the performance of the asphalt binder when subjected to creep loading. If creep stiffness is high, the
behavior of the asphalt tends to be brittle and cracking is more likely to occur. So as to prevent and control
it, the Superpave specification stablish a maximum of 300 MPa. A high m-value is desirable since as the
temperature changes and thermal stresses accumulate, the capability of rapidly change the stiffness
means that the built stresses will tend to shed instead of accumulate and cause cracking. The minimum
specified value for the m-value is 0.300.
On the other hand, owing to the fact that shrinkage causes stresses to build in the pavement, and if the
binder is ductile enough, it is possible that the asphalt concrete may perform satisfactory under low
temperature conditions. Studies have shown that when the binder can show tensile strains of more than
one percent under extreme temperature conditions, low temperature cracking is less likely to occur.
Despite of the fact that the DTT is used to describe the response of the asphalt binder under severe
environmental conditions, its analysis is only required when the creep stiffness is between 300 and 600
MPa. Values of creep stiffness below this range do not require further analysis with DTT.

4.2 MISCELLANEOUS SUPERPAVE SPECIFICATION CRITERIA.


Other specifications related with safety control and handling are exposed below. The flash point test,
standardized by the AASHTO T 48, is used to address safety issues. Its minion value is 230 C, this test must
be developed in unaged binders.
To address easy pumping and handling of a hot mix, the Superpave specification requires a maximum
viscosity of 3 Pa*s for all grades.
The mass loss calculated by means of the RTFO, under any circumstance, cannot be more than one percent
so as to prevent excessively aging due to volatilization.

5 ASPHALT BINDER SELECTION.


Asphalts binders, according to the Superpave Specification of Performance Grade, must be selected
according to the environmental condition in which they are expected to render service. As exposed below,
the distinction among grades is done by means of the maximum and minimum pavement temperature
binder performance required for the project.
Whereas the general specification shows several classifications, the PG grades are not limited to the given
characterization and extending unlimited in both temperature limits. The PG high and low temperatures
extend as far as required in standardized six-degree increments. The Superpave software, found as Long
Term Pavement Performance (LTPP), assists the designer in selecting binder grades. The LTPP software
offers three main methods in which an asphalt binder can be selected:
1. By Geographic Area: the LTTP Bind provides an interactive map in which a database from 7920
North American weather stations (US and Canada) can be found. A performance grade map can
be created based on weather and/or policy decisions,
2. By Pavement Temperature: The LTPP Bind Database allows to find an estimated pavement
temperature by means of a correlated equation which is a function of the air temperature and
the geographic location of the project, and
3. By Air Temperature: By determining the environmental conditions, it is possible to find the
expected pavement temperature range.
Since weather stations that are less than 20 years are not used, the LTTP Bind software results to be a
reliable method to give a first approach to the asphalt binder selection. In the selection, the software
defines the high pavement design temperature at 20 mm below the pavement surface whereas the low
pavement design temperature is defined at the pavement surface. The software allows to choose any
other depth, which causes the PG to change. Nevertheless, variations are generally unnoticeable.
The Superpave system allows the designer to select a level of reliability as well. The capability of selecting
a reliability level enables a degree of design risk for high and low temperature grades. The reliability is
defined as the probability in a single year that the actual temperature will not surpass the design
temperatures (PG specification of a binder). The binder selection is flexible since the Superpave system
allows to select different reliabilities for high and low design temperatures.
So as to explain the concept, we will consider a design in West Allis Co, WI, which has a mean high air
temperature of 32.3C and a standard deviation of 1.3C. In an average year, there is a probability of 50%
that the seven-day maximum air temperature will exceed 32.3C. However, there is only a 2% probability
that the temperature will exceed 35C. A design for 35C would provide a 98% reliability design.

Starting from the air temperature, observe that the average seven-day maximum air temperature is
32.3C with a standard deviation of 1.3C, whereas the average low air temperature is -25.7C. For a really
cold condition the temperature is -32C with a standard deviation of 3.6C.
When converting to pavement temperature, it is important to remember that it is only necessary to do
for high design temperatures. For a wearing course at the top of a pavement section, the pavement
temperatures are -25.7 and 51.4 C for a 50% reliability. For a 98% reliability the design temperatures are
-32 and 54C.
For a reliability of 50%, the asphalt binder selection must be PG 52-28. For a 98% reliability, the asphalt
binder selection will be PG 58-34. Please note that the selection of an asphalt binder immediately results
in a higher level of reliability due to the rounding up to the next standard grade. Furthermore, it is possible
to select different reliability levels for high and low design temperature.
For high temperature design situations, in which the binder properties related to permanent deformation
are critical for a satisfactory performance, the traffic speed has an additional effect on the mechanical
response of the pavement. For slow moving traffic loads, the binder should be selected one grade above
the grade specified by means of temperature analysis so as to offset the effect of slower traffic speed. In
the example, the selected binder when subjected to slow moving loads, should be PG 58-28 or 64-34,
according to the desired reliability. For standing traffic loads, the asphalt binder should be selected two
grades above the original selected binder.

Furthermore, a shift is included in the Superpave system to select the asphalt binder when subjected to
towering numbers of heavy traffic loads, defined as any design lane traffic that exceeds 10.000.000 ESALS.
When the expected number of ESALs is between 10.000.000 and 30.000.000, it is recommended to
consider the selection of a grade above the original selection based on climate. When the traffic is
expected to be greater than 30.000.000 ESALs, the designer should select one grade higher than the
temperature grade.

6 SUPERPAVE SPECIFICATIONS FOR AGGREGATES


6.1 CONSENSUS PROPERTIES
As exposed previously, it was accorded by the SHRP researchers that certain characteristics are critical for
a satisfactory performance of an asphalt concrete when in service. These characteristics, denominated as
consensus properties, were proposed after an agreement of their importance and specified values. The
properties are briefly exposed below.
6.1.1 Coarse Aggregate Angularity:
This property is strongly related with the degree of aggregate internal friction and resistance against
permanent deformation of the pavement. It is defined as the percentage by weight of the coarse
aggregate larger than 4.75 mm that have one or more fractured surfaces. This procedure is standardize in
ASTM D 5821. It mainly consist in manually counting particles to determine fractured surfaces, defined as
any surface that occupies 25% or more of the total surface. The required minimum values for coarse
aggregate angularity are a function of the traffic level and its position within the pavement. The
requirements must be applied to the design aggregate blend.
Superpave Coarse Aggregate Angularity Requirements
Traffic Level
Minimum percentage
6
(x10 ESALs)
Depth <100 mm
Depth >100 mm
< 0.3
55/-/0.3-1.0
65/-/1.0-3.0
75/50/3.0-10.0
85/80
60/10.0-30.0
95/90
80/75
30.0-100.0
100/100
95/90
>100
100/100
100/100
6.1.2 Fine Aggregate Angularity:
This property is related to the degree of fine aggregate internal friction and resistance against rutting. It
is defined as the percentage of air voids present in loosely compacted aggregates smaller than 2.36 mm.
Higher void contents are related with more fractured faces in the fine aggregate. The test procedure is
standardized in AASTHO T 304. The procedure is developed by pouring a sample of fine aggregate into a
calibrated cylinder ok known volume, flowing through a standard tunnel. The weight of the fine aggregate
in the filled cylinder is measured and void content can be calculated by means of the following equation:

(
)

Where V is the calibrated volume, W is the weight of the uncompacted fine aggregate into the cylinder,
and is the bulk specific gravity. The required values for fine aggregate angularity are a function of the
traffic level and the position of the material within the pavement. The requirements should be applied to
the final blend. Nevertheless, estimates can be made on individual aggregate piles.
Superpave Fine Aggregate Angularity Requirements
Traffic Level
Minimum percentage
6
(x10 ESALs)
Depth <100 mm
Depth >100 mm
< 0.3
0.3-1.0
40
1.0-3.0
40
40
3.0-10.0
45
40
10.0-30.0
45
40
30.0-100.0
45
45
>100
45
45
6.1.3 Flat, Elongated Particles
This property concept is the percentage by weight of the coarse aggregates that have a maximum to
minimum dimension ratio equal or greater than five. As exposed before, elongated particles are
undesirable since they are easily breakable when subjected to bending load and tend to fail during
construction and in service. The standardized procedure is found in ASTM D 4791. This test is valid for
coarse aggregate greater than 4.75 mm. The procedure equipment consist on a caliper device to measure
the dimensional ratio of an aggregate sample. Every particle is first placed on its largest dimension
between the swinging arm and a fixed post in position A. Then the swinging arm remains stationary while
the smaller dimension is measured between the arm and a fixed post in position B. If the particle passes
through the gap in position B, it is said to be elongated and it is counted.
The required maximum values of flat, elongated particles are a function of traffic level. The Superpave
specifications are applied to the design aggregate blend. However, this test may be developed for every
single aggregate stockpile.
Superpave Flat, Elongated
Particle Requirements
Traffic level
Maximum
(x106 ESALs)
percentage
<1.0
>1.0
10
6.1.4 Clay content and Sand Equivalent:
Clay content is understood as the percentage of clay material present in the aggregate fraction smaller
than 4.75 mm. the standardized procedure is found in AASHTO T 176. The test briefly consist in placing
fine aggregate in a graduated cylinder with an agitated flocculating solution so as to loose clayey fines.
The flocculating solution causes the clay and silt to be suspended while the bigger particles (sand)

sediment. The height of suspended clay and sand is measured and then, the sand equivalent is computed
by means of the following equation:
=

The minimum values for the Sand Equivalent of Superpave specifications for fine aggregate are a function
of traffic level.
Superpave Clay Content Requirements
Traffic level
Minimum Sand
6
(x10 ESALs)
Equivalent
<3.0
40
3.0<30.0
45
>30.0
50

6.2 SOURCE PROPERTIES:


In addition to the consensus properties, there are certain other properties which are thought to be
outstanding and moreover, critical in the well performance of the asphalt pavement. Owing to the fact
that this properties depend on the material source, there are not specified values nor requirements for
any aggregate material. The SHRP researchers concluded that a set of source properties were necessary
so as to describe the behavior of the aggregate and therefore, the asphalt concrete performance. This
properties are relevant in the mix design process. Nevertheless, they can be used as a criteria of material
source acceptance. This properties are exposed below:
6.2.1 Toughness:
The toughness of an aggregate material refers to the percent loss of a blend when subjected to abrasion
in Los Angeles test. The standardized procedure is described in AASHTO T 96. This test is used to evaluate
the resistance of an aggregate blend to abrasion and mechanical degradation during the processes of
handling, construction, and in-service. The procedure briefly consist in subjecting coarse aggregate larger
than 2.36 mm to impact by steel spheres and computing a percentage of loss by weight. Maximum loss
values are between 35 and 45%.
6.2.2 Soundness:
The soundness of an aggregate blend is understood as the percent loss of a material subjected to Sodium
or Magnesium Sulfate Soundness Test. The procedure is standardize in AASHTO T 104. This test measures
the resistance of the aggregate materials to weathering during the pavement service period. The
soundness test can be developed in coarse and fine aggregate blends. The procedure mainly consist in
submerging an aggregate sample repeatedly into the solution described and over drying after each
immersion. During the drying, the salt of the solution precipitates into the aggregate voids. During an
immersion process the salt rehydrates generating internal expansive stresses, simulating the exposure of
the aggregate to freeze-thaw cycles. The soundness of the blend is defined as the percent loss after several
cycles. Maximum values are generally between 10 and 20 percent for five cycles.

6.2.3 Deleterious Materials:


The deleterious materials are contaminants such as shale, wood, mica, coal and any organic material
present in the aggregate blend. It is defined by a weight percentage. The specified procedure is
standardize in AASHTO T 112. It can be developed for fine and coarse aggregate. The tests briefly consist
on wet sieving materials and measuring the material lost as a percent of clay lumps and friable materials.
Values range from 0.2 to 10% according to the composition of the contaminant.

6.3 GRADATION
The Superpave system uses the 0.45 power chart to define satisfactory gradations. Some of the features
associated with the characterization are the maximum density gradation, control points and restricted
area within the chart. The maximum density gradation, as exposed previously, is defined by a straight line
between the origin and the maximum aggregate size. The densest arrangement is undesirable owing to
the fact that very little voids may be developed and the asphalt binder may not behave suitably.
The restricted zone resides along the maximum density gradation. It forms a band in which the gradation
should not pass owing to the fact that it would produce a humped gradation, characterized by having
too much fine sand in relation with the total amount of sand. This gradations generally produce tender
mixtures which are difficulty compacted and reduces the resistance to rutting because of a weak
aggregate skeleton that highly depends on the asphalt binder to achieve strength.
An aggregate blend that passes through the control points and avoid the restricted zone meets the
requirements of the Superpave design method.
The Superpave system recommends the gradation to pass bellow the restricted zone, although it is not
necessary. When the project is expected to perform under heavy traffic levels, it is recommended the
gradation to be coarse control points (lower points).
Gradation requirements are exposed below for every Superpave Mixture Designation:

37.5 mm Nominal Size


Sieve
Standard (mm)
50
37.5
25
19
12.5
9.5
4.75
2.36
1.18
0.600
0.300
0.150
0.075

Control Points
Mesh
2
1 1/2
1
3/4
1/2
3/8
N. 4
N. 8
N. 16
N. 30
N. 50
N.100
N. 200

Min.
100
90

Max.

Restricted Zone
Boundaries
Min.
Max.

100
90

15

41

34.7
23.3
15.5
11.7
10

34.7
27.3
21.5
15.7
10

Sieve
Standard (mm)
37.5
25
19
12.5
9.5
4.75
2.36
1.18
0.600
0.300
0.150
0.075

25 mm Nominal Size
Control
Points
Mesh
Min. Max.
1 1/2
100
1
90
100
3/4
90
1/2
3/8
N. 4
N. 8
19
45
N. 16
N. 30
N. 50
N.100
N. 200
1
7

Restricted Zone
Boundaries
Min.
Max.

39.5
26.8
18.1
13.6
11.4

39.5
30.8
24.1
17.6
11.4

Sieve
Standard (mm)
25
19
12.5
9.5
4.75
2.36
1.18
0.600
0.300
0.150
0.075

19 mm Nominal Size
Control
Points
Mesh
Min. Max.
1
100
3/4
90
100
1/2
90
3/8
N. 4
N. 8
23
49
N. 16
N. 30
N. 50
N.100
N. 200
2
8

Restricted Zone
Boundaries
Min.
Max.

34.6
22.3
16.7
13.7

34.6
28.3
20.7
13.7

Sieve
Standard (mm)
19
12.5
9.5
4.75
2.36
1.18
0.600
0.300
0.150
0.075

12.5 mm Nominal Size


Control
Points
Mesh
Min. Max.
3/4
100
1/2
90
100
3/8
90
N. 4
N. 8
28
58
N. 16
N. 30
N. 50
N.100
N. 200
2
10

Restricted Zone
Boundaries
Min.
Max.

39.1
25.6
19.1
15.5

39.1
31.6
23.1
15.5

Sieve
Standard (mm)
12.5
9.5
4.75
2.36
1.18
0.600
0.300
0.150
0.075

9.5 mm Nominal Size


Control
Points
Mesh
Min. Max.
1/2
100
3/8
90
100
N. 4
90
N. 8
32
67
N. 16
N. 30
N. 50
N.100
N. 200
2
10

Restricted Zone
Boundaries
Min.
Max.

47.2
31.6
23.5
18.7

47.2
37.6
27.5
18.7

7 SUPERPAVE MIXTURE DESIGN


7.1 ASPHALT MIXTURE TESTS:
7.1.1 Superpave Gyratory Compaction.
Since previous design methodologies, such as Marshall procedure, have some issues with the relation
between the laboratory and construction compaction methods, the SHRP research was aim to produce a
device in which a realistically compaction of trial specimens were developed under climate and traffic
conditions of a real project. The developed equipment is capable of accommodating large aggregates in a
similarly to an in-construction compaction procedure, and measure the compactibility of the mixture so
as to easily determine potentially tender behavior of an asphalt concrete design. Due to the fact that no
compactor was suited to perform under the required features. The Superpave Gyratory Compactor (SGC)
was developed.
The SGC operation is based on two previously developed machines: the Texas Gyratory Compactor and
the French Gyratory Compactor. The first one was taken into account since it is capable of accomplish
realistic specimen densification. SHRP researchers modified the Texas compactor by lowering the angular
offset and adding real time specimen height measurement. The SGC mainly consist on a reaction frame,
a rotating base and a motor, a loading system, a height measurement and recordation system, and a mold
and base plate. The base of the SGC rotates at 30 revolutions per minute as the specimen is compacted
and supports the mold while it occurs. The SCG mold nominal dimensions are 150 mm diameter and a
height of 250 mm minimum. The mold is positioned in an angle of 1.25 degrees. The loading system can
be hydraulic or mechanical. It applies a constant 600 kPa compaction pressure.
The measurement of the height is an extremely important feature in the SGC compaction. Using the mass
of the specimen and the diameter of the mold, an estimate of the density can be developed in any instant
during the compaction process.
So as to normalize the effect of the binder, the specimens are required to be mixed and compacted under
equiviscous temperature conditions. This are standardize as 0.1700.20 Pa*s for mixing and 0.2800.30
Pa*s for compaction as determined for the temperature-viscosity behavior determined by means of a
Rotational Viscometer (RV) test. Mixing temperatures of 170 C and higher may indicate that the mixture
is created with a modified asphalt binder. Nevertheless, temperatures above 177C may lend to
degradation and shall not be used.
The mixing procedure must be prosecuted by means of a mechanical mixer. After mixing, the loose
mixture specimens shall be subjected to four hours of short term aging in a RTFO oven. During this
procedure, the specimens are mean to be spread resulting in a thickness of 21 to 22 kg per square meter
and stirred every hour to ensure homogeneous aging. The compaction molds must be subjected to
temperature treatment at 135 C for at least 45 minutes before compaction.
The Superpave specifications use three different specimen sizes to determine several properties:
1. For volumetric properties determination, the compacted specimens must be 1155 mm height. It
requires approximately 4500 grams of asphalt concrete loose mixture. Specimen trimming is not
necessary,

2. For performance testing, specimens shall be approximately 135 mm height. This is accomplished
by using around 5500 grams of mixture. The specimens must be trimmed to 50 mm before testing
in the SST or IDT. At least one loose sample is required to determine maximum theoretical specific
gravity, as specified in AASHTO T 209, and
3. For moisture sensitivity tests, the specimens are fabricated with a height of 95mm, requiring
about 3500 grams of loose asphalt concrete.
7.1.2 Procedure Overview
After short term aging of the loose specimens the compaction can be started. The vertical pressure must
be set to 60018 kPa and the gyration counter must be zeroed and set to stop when the desired number
of gyrations is achieved. Three gyration numbers are of interest:
1. Design number of gyrations ( ),
2. Initial number of gyrations ( ), and
3. Maximum number of gyrations ( ).
The specimens are compacted until gyrations, the relationship between the relevant number of
gyrations are exposed below:
log = 1.10 log
log = 0.45 log
The is a function of the climate conditions and the traffic level of the project. A range of values for
, , and are listed below:
Average Design High Air Temperature
Design ESALs
(x10^6)

< 39 C
Nini

39 - 40 C
Ndes

NMax

Nini

Ndes

41 - 42 C
NMax

Nini

Ndes

43 - 44 C
NMax

Nini

Ndes

NMax

< 0.3

68

104

74

114

78

121

82

127

0.3-1.0

76

117

83

129

88

138

93

146

1.0-3.0

96

134

95

150

100

158

105

167

3.0-10.0

96

152

106

169

113

181

119

192

10.0-30.0

109

174

121

195

128

208

135

220

30.0-100.0

126

204

139

228

146

240

10

153

253

>100.0

142

233

10

158

262

10

165

275

10

172

288

When has been reached, the compactor automatically stops. After releasing the angle and the
pressure and after a cooling period, the specimen is extruded from the mold. Bulk Specific gravity is
required to be measured by the Superpave design method. It can be measured according to the standard
procedure in AASHTO T 166.
Recorded data from the SGC procedure is analyzed by computing the maximum theoretical specific gravity
for each desired gyration. The following example illustrates the analysis. After compaction, must be
measured after the compacted specimen is cooled down. The ratio between and is the %
at . So as to calculate the % at any number of gyrations ( ), the % at must be
multiplied by the ratio of heights at and .

= = 2.489
= = 2.563

Specimen 1
Total Mass
4869
N
Height (mm)
8
127
50
118
100
115.2
109
114.9
150
113.6
174
113.1

g
%
86.5%
93.1%
95.3%
95.6%
96.7%
97.1%

This example is for a mix design in which the average percent values of two specimens has been used
for further analysis. The Superpave specifications require at least the compaction of two samples for
number of gyrations versus percent of anaylisis.

7.2 ASPHALT MIXTURE REQUIREMENTS


The Superpave design method requires the compacted asphalt mixture to meet certain specified
parameters of the following properties:
1. Mixture volumetric requirements,
2. Dust proportion, and

3. Moisture susceptibility.
7.2.1 Mixture Volumetric Requirements:
Some of the Superpave specifications for volumetric properties share some features of design methods
used in the past. Properties such as content of air voids, voids in the mineral aggregate, voids filled with
asphalt, and density at and must be quantified and compared with assessment values because
they are used as a criteria for binder content selection. In Superpave, the design air void content is four
percent (4%)
= 4.0%
V OIDS IN THE M INERAL A GGREGATE
The voids in the mineral aggregate ( ) are defined as the sum of the volume of air voids and the effective
(i.e., unabsorbed) binder in an asphalt concrete. It represents the space between aggregate particles. The
aims of an asphalt concrete design are to ensure enough space for the asphalt binder so as to provide
adequate adherence between particles, avoiding bleeding when exposed to high temperatures. Specified
minimum values of the Superpave design method are a function of nominal maximum aggregate size:
Superpave requirements
Nominal Maximum
Minimum
Aggregate size (mm)
(%)
9.5
15
12.5
14
19
13
25
12
37.5
11
V OIDS F ILLED WITH A SPHALT
The voids filled with asphalt () are defined as the percentage of the volume of voids in the mixture ( )
that contains asphalt binder ( ). In other words, it is defined as the volume of effective binder expressed
as a percentage of the total voids.
=

4
=
=

The main effect of S in the asphalt concrete is to limit maximum values of , and as a consequience,
limiting the asphalt content levels. The acceptance criteria for S are a function of the traffic level.
Superpave S requirements
Traffic level
Design (%)
(x106 ESALs)
< 0.3
70 80
0.3-3.0
65 - 78
>3.0
65 75
D ENSITY R EQUIREMENTS FOR C OMPACTED S PECIMENS

The Superpave design system stablish maximum density criteria values of 89 percent for and 98
percent for .
The compaction characteristic curve for an asphalt mixture allows to perceive the strength of the
aggregate structure as well as the effect of the asphalt binder in the concrete density. At the same asphalt
content, a weaker aggregate skeletons tend to be denser than stronger blends. Nonetheless, their
compaction characteristic curve presents a flatter slope which indicates that their densification occurs
slower. On the other hand, for a same aggregate structure, denser mixtures are achieved as the binder
content increases.

Consequently, the maximum density limit for is aimed to avoid tender asphalt mixtures composed by
weak aggregates and high asphalt binders (lower internal friction between particles). Maximum density
limits stablished for are aimed to prevent the design of a mixture that will compact excessively when
subjected to the traffic design, becoming plastic, and leading to permanent deformation. The
represents an equivalent denser traffic than expected. By limiting the density at , excessively
compaction under traffic is less likely to occur.
D UST P ROPORTION
The dust proportion is computed as the ratio of percentage by weight of aggregate finer than 0.075 mm
(<0.075 ) or sieve N.200 to the effective asphalt content ( ) expressed as a percent by weight of
total mix ( ).
= (

<0.075

)/(
)

Effective asphalt content is understood as the binder in the mixture that is not absorbed by the aggregate
skeleton. An acceptable mixture have a dust proportion in a range of 0.6 to 1.2. Lower dust proportions
may lead to unstable mixtures while higher dust proportions may cause the mixture to lack sufficient
durability.
M OISTURE S ENSIBILITY
The addition between the asphalt binder and the aggregate skeleton is fundamental in the performance
of the pavement. However, the interaction between them is extremely complex and not well understood
yet. The stripping (loss of bond), mainly caused by the presence of moisture between solid particles and
binder, can be a severe problem. Nonetheless, certain aggregate and asphalt characteristics, construction

practices, environmental and traffic conditions, and poor drainage design can contribute to stripping as
well.
The procedure is standardized in AASHTO T 283. Despite often fact that this test is not related to pavement
performance, it is used as a criteria to identify moisture susceptible mixtures and to measure the
effectiveness of anti-stripping additives.
The procedure requires the creation of two subsets of specimens with a height of 95 mm and an air void
percentage of 71 %. One subset is moistures by vacuum saturation to a constant saturation degree
between 55 and 88 %, followed by an optional freeze cycle. The last step is a hot water soak. After the
treatment, both the conditioned and unconditioned subset of specimens are analyzed by means of an
Indirect Tensile Test. The moisture susceptibility is computed as the strength ratio between the two
conditions, called Tensile Strength Ratio (TSR). The Superpave specifications require a minimum TSR of
80%. Lower values may indicate that the asphalt pavement has a tendency to show stripping.

8 ASPHALT MIXTURE VOLUMETRIC PROPERTIES


Asphalt mixture behavior is extremely influenced by the volumetric proportions of asphalt binder and
aggregate components, called Asphalt Mixture Volumetric and Gravimetric Properties. Several volumetric
properties are strongly related to the mixtures probable pavement service performance. The analysis of
the volumetric properties of the asphalt plays an important role in several design methodologies, included
Superpave.

8.1 COMPONENT DIAGRAM: VOLUMETRIC AND GRAVIMETRIC PROPERTIES.


When analyzing the properties of HMA, it is useful to rethink the extremely complex interaction between
asphalt concrete components by means of a component diagram so as to individually describe every
component in terms of mass and volume relationships.

The following values can be found in the component diagram and they all are related directly or indirectly
to each other, all of the gravimetric and volumetric properties can be expressed as a percentage of the
total mass and total volume.
8.1.1

Volumetric Properties
: Total bulk volume of the compacted mix.
: Volume of voids between the mineral aggregate.
: Volume of mineral aggregate
: Volume of absorbed asphalt.
= + .
: Volume of air.
: Volume of asphalt between aggregate (effective asphalt binder).
= + .

8.1.2

Gravimetric Properties:
: Wight of air=0
: Weight of asphalt between aggregate particles (effective asphalt binder)
: Total Weight of asphalt.
: Weight of aggregate.
: Total Weight of mixture.
: Weight of absorbed asphalt binder.

As exposed previously, several relations between volumetric and gravimetric properties are used to
describe the mixture composition such as air voids ( ), voids in the mineral aggregate ( ), voids filled
with asphalt (), asphalt content ( ), effective asphalt content ( ), and absorbed asphalt content
( ). Furthermore, this relations between mass and volume can be found by means of the different
specific gravities of the asphalt mixture.

8.2 SPECIFIC GRAVITY


The specific is defined as the ratio of the mass of a unit volume of a material to the mass of the same
volume of water at any determined temperature. It is better understood as the ratio of densities between
a material and water. Since at 25C the density of the water is 1.000 g/cm 3, the specific gravity can be
computed by dividing its mass by its volume since density and specific gravity would be numerically
identical. This property of the materials is fundamentally important for the Superpave system owing to
the fact that by knowing the mass of a material, its volume can be known as well, and vice versa.
8.2.1 Aggregate Specific Gravities:
Aggregate particle structure, and moreover, its interaction with asphalt binder is extremely complex.
Mineral aggregate is porous and can absorb water and asphalt. Moreover, the ratio of water to asphalt
binder absorption varies with the aggregate source. The Superpave system uses three main specific
gravities so as to take this variations in consideration and describe the asphalt concrete volumetric and
gravimetric properties. These methods are bulk, apparent, and effective specific gravities.
B ULK S PECIFIC G RAVITY

The bulk specific gravity ( ), is understood as the ratio of the aggregate mass to the volume of the
aggregate, including both permeable and impermeable voids in the aggregate.

+ +

A PPARENT S PECIFIC G RAVITY


The apparent specific gravity ( ), is understood as the ratio of the aggregate mass to the volume of the
aggregate, without including the volume of surface pores (water permeable voids) in the aggregate.

E FFECTIVE S PECIFIC G RAVITY


The effective specific gravity ( ), is understood as the ratio of the aggregate mass to the volume of the
aggregate, including the volume of water permeable voids that cannot be reached by the asphalt binder.

+ +
=

(
)

8.2.2 Mixture Specific Gravities:


Two measurements of the specific gravity of the HMA are fundamentally important in the determination
of volumetric properties of the asphalt concrete: the maximum theoretical specific gravity ( ), and the
bulk specific gravity ( ).
The maximum specific gravity, , is the ratio of the mass in air to a unit volume of the asphalt and
aggregate in the mixture. In other words, it can be computed as the mass of the asphalt and aggregate
components divided by their volumes, not including the air voids.
=

=
+

The bulk specific gravity, , is the ratio of the mass in air to a unit volume of the compacted mixture.
In other words, it can be computed as the mass of the asphalt and aggregate components divided by the
volume, including the air voids.
=

=
+ +

Because of the fact that volume quantities are not easily determined. The mixture quantities must be
firstly determined by weight.

8.3 ANALYZING A COMPACTED PAVING MIXTURE


The Superpave analysis system makes use of two methods to evaluate the volumetric properties of a hot
asphalt mixture. Whereas the first one is based on the analysis of the component diagram, computing by
means of aggregate and mixture specific gravities, the second one uses the same specific gravity
measurement and a set of mathematical relations to directly determine the mixture properties.

The author recommends to use the diagram component so as to have a clear idea of what is the
interaction between asphalt concrete components in terms of quantities. Nevertheless, the use of
mathematical equations not only ease the laboratory mix and design, but also allows the designer to
observe the variations in certain properties of the mixture.
8.3.1 Mathematical Equations Method.
The following measurements are required by the Superpave system so as to run an air void analysis:
1. Bulk specific gravity of the coarse aggregate ( ) and the fine aggregate ( ), (AASHTO
T 85 and AASHTO T 84),
2. Specific gravity of the asphalt cement ( ) and mineral filler ( ), (AASHTO T 228 and AASHTO
T100),
3. Bulk specific gravity of the aggregate blend ( ),
4. Maximum specific gravity of the loose asphalt mixture ( ), (AASHTO D 2041), and
5. Bulk specific gravity of the compacted asphalt mixture ( ), (AASHTO T 166).
The following calculations are required as well:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Effective specific gravity of the aggregate ( ),


Maximum specific gravity for several asphalt contents,
Asphalt absorption of the aggregate ( ),
Effective asphalt content in the mixture,
Voids in the mineral aggregate in the compacted mixture,
Air voids I the compacted mixture, and
Voids filled with asphalt in the compacted mixture.

B ULK S PECIFIC G RAVITY :


=

1 + 2 + +
1
2

1 + 2 + +

Where is the bulk specific gravity of the aggregate blend, is the percentage by mass of the different
aggregate components of the final aggregate blend, and is the bulk specific gravity of every aggregate
that compose the final aggregate blend.
E FFECTIVE S PECIFIC G RAVITY :
=


1
=

1

Where is the effective specific gravity of the aggregate blend, is the maximum specific gravity of
the loose mixture, is the percentage by mass of total loose mixture (100%), is the percentage by
mass of the binder in the mixture, and is the asphalt binder specific gravity.
M AXIMUM S PECIFIC G RAVITY OF M IXTURES WITH D IFFERENT A SPHALT C ONTENTS

() =

1
=

+ +

Where is the maximum specific gravity of the mixture as a function of the asphalt binder content,
is the percentage by mass of total loose mixture (100%), is the percentage of aggregate content
in the mixture, is the percentage of asphalt binder in the mixture, is the effective specific gravity
of the aggregate blend, and is the asphalt binder specific gravity. Notice that + = 1.
A SPHALT A BSORPTION
=

Where is the absorbed asphalt, is the asphalt binder specific gravity, is the effective specific
gravity of the aggregate blend, and is the bulk specific gravity of the aggregate blend.
E FFECTIVE A SPHALT C ONTENT OF AN A SPHALT M IXTURE
=
Where is the effective asphalt binder content, is the content of asphalt binder in the mixture, and
is the absorbed asphalt.
V OIDS IN THE M INERAL A GGREGATE OF A C OMPACTED M IXTURE .
= 1

Where is the void content in the compacted mixture, is the bulk specific gravity of the compacted
asphalt mixture, is the aggregate content in the mixture as a percentage, and is the bulk specific
gravity of the aggregate blend.
A IR V OIDS IN THE C OMPACTED M IXTURE
=

1
( )

Where is the air void percentage by volume in the compacted mixture, is the maximum specific
gravity of the loose mixture, and is the bulk specific gravity of the compacted asphalt mixture.
V OIDS F ILLED WITH A SPHALT IN THE C OMPACTED M IXTURE
=

1
( )

Where S is the percentage of voids filled with asphalt as a percentage of the void content in the mixture,
is the void content in the compacted mixture, and is the air void percentage by volume in the
compacted mixture.
When analyzing the several mathematical equations, it can be seen that some volumetric properties
highly depend on the asphalt binder content. A graphic analysis is exposed below: