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Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979

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Laboratory evaluation of recycled construction and demolition waste for pavements

Fabiana da Conceio Leite 1, Rosngela dos Santos Motta 1, Kamilla L. Vasconcelos 1, Liedi Bernucci ,1
Department of Transportation Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of So Paulo, So Paulo, Brazil

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The wide production of construction and demolition waste and its illegal deposition are serious current
Received 4 May 2010 problems in Brazil. This research proposes to evaluate the feasibility of using aggregate from recycled
Received in revised form 3 November 2010 construction and demolition waste (RCDW) in pavement applications. A laboratory program was con-
Accepted 14 November 2010
ducted by geotechnical characterization, bearing capacity and repeated load triaxial tests. The results
Available online 13 January 2011
show that the composition and the compactive effort inuence on the physical characteristics of the
RCDW aggregate. The compaction process has promoted a partial crushing and breakage of RCDW parti-
cles, changing the grain-size distribution and increasing the percentage of cubic grains. This physical
change contributes to a better densication of the RCDW aggregate and consequently an improvement
Construction and demolition waste in bearing capacity, resilient modulus and resistance to permanent deformation. The results have shown
Compactive effort that the RCDW aggregate may be utilized as coarse base and sub-base layer for low-volume roads.
Permanent deformation 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Open access under the Elsevier OA license.

1. Introduction repeated load triaxial tests. Besides, the effect of the compactive
effort on its physical and mechanical properties is analyzed. The
Construction and demolition waste is generated in large following tests were carried out: water absorption, grain-size dis-
amounts in medium and large-sized cities in Brazil. According to tribution, grain shape, California bearing ratio (CBR), resilient mod-
Schneider [1], in the year 2003 about 16,000 tons of solid wastes ulus and permanent deformation. The conclusions and some
from civil construction were produced daily in So Paulo the recommendations about the use of RCDW aggregates in road con-
largest Brazilian city representing 50% of the overall solid waste. struction are presented.
Furthermore, only about one third of this material was delivered to
the public landlls, while the rest was disposed of illegally.
Researches conrm that construction and demolition waste has 2. RCDW as pavement aggregate
a great potential to be reused as aggregate in road construction
[25]. The aggregate from recycled construction and demolition Demolition debris has been signicantly recycled since the end
waste (RCDW) is an attractive alternative material for bases and of the Second World War [12]. However, studies about its physical
sub-bases due to its high resistance and its non-expansive behavior properties, mechanical behavior and durability are quite recent.
[6,7]. However, the quality of the recycled materials varies consid- In Britain, OMahony and Milligan [9] studied the possibility of
erably and is quite difcult to control [8]; some proper guidelines using crushed concrete and demolition debris as sub-base coarse
on the production and application of these aggregates are needed aggregate. CBR experiments were conducted and the behavior of
[911]. the recycled materials was compared with the behavior of lime-
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the feasible use of stone. The results showed that CBR of crushed concrete was similar
RCDW aggregate in pavement applications, mainly as base and to that of natural aggregate. Conversely, demolition debris pre-
sub-base material in low-volume roads. The recycled material is sented a fairly decrease in its CBR.
characterized under standard laboratory tests and evaluated by Bennert et al. [3] analyzed the performance of recycled concrete
aggregate in base and sub-base applications. The authors
concluded that a blended mixture of 25% of recycled concrete
Corresponding author at: Department of Transportation Engineering, Polytechnic aggregate with 75% of natural aggregate would obtain the same
School, University of So Paulo, So Paulo, Brazil. Tel.: +55 11 3091 5485; fax: +55 11 resilient response and permanent deformation properties as a
3091 5716. dense-graded aggregate base coarse, currently used in base and
E-mail addresses: (F.d.C. Leite), rosangela.motta@ sub-base layers.
(R.d.S. Motta), (K.L. Vasconcelos),
(L. Bernucci).
Molenaar and van Niekerk [8] studied the inuence of composi-
Av. Prof. Almeida Prado, Trav. 2, n. 83 Cidade Universitria, So Paulo/SP 05508- tion, gradation and degree of compaction on mechanical character-
070, Brazil. istics of crushed concrete and crushed masonry in the Netherlands.

0950-0618 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Open access under the Elsevier OA license.
F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979 2973

The results demonstrated that although the composition and gra- was separated into four main groups: (i) cementitious materials
dation have an inuence on the mechanical characteristics of the (the major component of the RCDW aggregate, comprised mainly
recycled materials, the degree of compaction is clearly the most of concrete and mortar), (ii) highly porous ceramic materials
important factor. (bricks and roof tiles), (iii) less porous ceramic materials (ceramic
Motta [4] studied the mechanical behavior of RCDW aggregates tiles), and (iv) crushed rocks, as indicated in Table 2, and illustrated
from So Paulo. The results indicated an increase in the resilient in Fig. 1. The undesirable materials occur in very small proportions,
modulus over time. In order to verify the pozzolanic activity of this in accordance with the Brazilian standard as presented in Table 1,
recycled material, the modied Chapelle test was carried out. The and were negligible in this work.
results demonstrated the existence of non-inert cement particles
in the RCDW aggregate, which improved the performance of the 4.2. Water absorption
recycled material.
In 2004, the rst Brazilian standard procedure about the RCDW The coarse aggregates were separated into groups in accordance
aggregate application in pavements was published (NBR 15115 with its composition in order to determine the water absorption.
[13]). This standard proposes the use of this recycled material as The test procedure followed the American specication ASTM
base and sub-base layers for low-volume roads and considers the C127 and the results are presented in Table 2.
CBR as the main parameter to design. A summary of suggested lim- According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) [15]
its for the selection of RCDW aggregates is presented in Table 1. recycled concrete materials have rougher surface texture, lower
specic gravity, and higher water absorption when compared with
3. Material
virgin aggregates of the same size, enhancing the adhesion of mor-
tar to the aggregates incorporated in the concrete. The group of
A typical Brazilian construction and demolition waste is a mixture of ceramic, cementitious materials used in this research followed the same
concrete blocks, mortar, reinforced concrete, steel, plastic, asbestos cement and trend as reported by FHWA and also presented high value of water
wood [14]. Recycling this material so as to obtain the RCDW aggregate requires a
absorption. The same was observed in the less porous ceramic
well planned production procedure, in which sorting, separation, size reduction,
and sieving are important steps in the complete process. materials. The highly porous ceramic group showed the highest va-
The recycled material investigated in this research derives from a recycling lue when compared to the other studied groups. By a weighted
plant located in the So Paulo metropolitan region. This recycling plant uses a ham- average, it was veried that the water absorption of the RCDW
mer crusher to produce RCDW aggregates particularly and its nominal capacity is
aggregate was 12.2%, mostly dependent on the occurrence of
about 80 tons/h. There is no systematic control of the arriving material, that con-
sists mainly of construction and demolition waste. However, visual inspection,
highly porous ceramic materials.
manual pre-sorting and magnetic separator are used so as to remove the undesir-
able materials (such as asbestos cement, wood, plastic, paper and metals). For this 4.3. Grain shape
study, a representative sample of about 2 tons of RCDW aggregate was used for the
laboratory evaluation.
This test was carried out according to the Brazilian standard
NBR 6954 in order to determine the percentage of cubic, at or
4. Physical characteristics elongated particles. The aggregate fractions retained in the
4.75 mm sieve were divided into groups by visual characterization
4.1. Composition according to their nature. A digital slide calliper was used for mea-
suring thickness, width and length of each particle. The classica-
In order to determine the composition of the RCDW used in this tion of grain shape was made using the relations among three
study, the coarse aggregate fraction retained on the 4.75 mm measurements (length, width, and height). The results are summa-
sieve was examined by visual analysis. The RCDW aggregate rized in Table 2.

Fig. 1. Illustration of the four main groups of the RCDW aggregate evaluated: (a) cementitious materials, (b) highly porous ceramic material, (c) less porous ceramic material,
and (d) crushed rocks.
2974 F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979

Table 1 5. Compaction tests and particles breakage

Summary of the Brazilian standard for the selection of RCDW aggregates for
pavement application.
5.1. Compaction tests (proctor)
Properties Specied limits
Undesirable materials Same origin 62.0% To evaluate the effect of compaction effort on the RCDW aggre-
Different origin 63.0% gate properties, two distinct proctor energies were applied: inter-
Grain shape % Flat grains 630% mediate and modied. The intermediate effort corresponds
Gradation Maximum diameter 63.5 mm approximately to 50% of the modied effort and is widely used
Cu (uniformity coefcient) P10 for sub-bases in the Brazilian specications. The laboratory com-
% passing on sieve 0.42 mm 10% 6 x 6 40% paction tests were carried out based on the American standard pro-
CBR According to the layer Base: P60%a cedure (ASTM D1557).
Sub-base: P20% The literature reveals the difculty in obtaining a compaction
Swelling According to the layer Base: 60.5%a curve for recycled materials [8,9]. The RCDW sample was well split
Sub-base: 61.0% and the distribution of grains, according to the dimension and nat-
Only for low-volume roads (N 6 106). ure, was kept similar for each specimen, allowing the obtainment
of typical compaction curves at both compaction efforts (Fig. 3).
The values of optimum moisture content and maximum dry den-
sity indentied were 13.5% and 18.2 kN/m3 for modied effort,
Table 2
Physical characteristics of RCDW aggregates.
and 14.6% and 17.6 kN/m for intermediate effort.

Group material Occurence by Water Grain shape

weight (%) absorption
Cubic Flat Elongated
(%) (%) (%) 5.2. Particles breakage
Cementitious 55 11.5 83.5 14.1 2.4
Highly porous 16 20.7 37.0 50.0 13.0 The RCDW aggregate evaluated in this study presents abrasion
of 51.5%, according to the Los Angeles test method (ASTM C 535-
Less porous 14 11.1 2.4 92.8 4.8 09). In order to evaluate its breakage process, the grains shape of
ceramic specimens compacted with intermediate and modied efforts were
materials compared with the grains shape before compaction. A tripartite-
Crushed rocks 12 3.8 82.1 14.3 3.6 cylinder with 150 mm diameter and a 300 mm height was used
Undesirable 3
(Fig. 4). Table 3 presents the percentages of each grain shape clas-
sication before compaction and after intermediate and modied
Cementitious materials and crushed rocks have a wide predom- The cubic grains represented the majority in the three cases
inance of cubic grains. Conversely, less porous ceramic materials evaluated, due to the high occurrence of cementitious materials.
show mostly at particles, explained by the material origin, com- Moreover, it is clear that after compaction, the percentage of cubic
prised predominantly of tiles. Highly porous ceramic materials grains increases. By analogy, at and elongated grains decrease.
present all kind of shapes depending on the source and the commi- Although the small number of elongated particles, the reduction
nution process. The predominance of cubic particles, represented of this shape group was remarkable after compaction. No signi-
by the cementitious materials and crushed rocks may contribute cant changes in shape were observed between intermediate and
to a better densication and improvement of shear resistance. On modied effort and one can conclude that most of the breakages
the other hand, the presence of at and elongated particles contrib- occur at the beginning of compaction, when the material is not
utes to the breakage during compaction. As presented in Table 3, yet densied and the mobility of the particles is facilitated.
the RCDW aggregate has 38.8% of at particles (above the limit Similarly to the grain shape, the gradation was analyzed for the
specied in the Brazilian standard, Table1). However, after com- RCDW aggregates in three different stages: before compaction and
paction the percentage of at particles decreased to 29, due to after intermediate and modied efforts. As illustrated in Fig. 2, the
the particles breakage, then attending the specication. compaction process broke partially the particles, resulting in ner
size-distribution curves. The change in gradation was more pro-
nounced at the beginning of the compaction process, mostly on
4.4. Grain-size distribution the coarse fraction, such as 38 and 25 mm. When the modied
effort was applied, the breakage continued, but less intensively
The gradation was determined following ASTM C136. As can be because of an increase in the interlocking degree. The increase in
seen from Fig. 2, the studied material has a maximum diameter of the amount of ne particles was produced by the breakage of
50.0 mm, a shallow slope curve presenting particles of different coarse grains and by the friction between particles during the
grain sizes, and 22% of material passing on sieve 0.42 mm. The uni- compaction process.
formity coefcient (Cu) is about 53, indicating a not uniform mate- This result indicates the importance of an adjusted compactive
rial. All the above mentioned properties are in accordance with the effort so that the particle breakage happens during the construc-
Brazilian standard presented in Table 1. tion and not along the pavement life. It is important to point out
Table 3 that in the eld this breakage process would probably be larger
Changes in shape of RCDW aggregates. compared to laboratory, since the use of cylinder causes a restric-
tion in the particles mobility. The change in the grain-size distribu-
Classication Before After intermediate After modied
compaction (%) effort (%) effort (%) tion contributes to a better densication of the RCDW aggregate
that will probably imply in less permanent deformation. Hence,
Cubic 55.7 68.0 69.0
Flat 38.8 29.0 29.0 the moisture content must be rigorously controlled in the eld,
Elongated 5.5 3.0 2.0 with the possible need to be increased during the compaction
F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979 2975

Fig. 2. Particle size-distribution curves of RCDW aggregate.

Fig. 3. Relationship between moisture content and dry density for the RCDW aggregate.

Fig. 4. (a) RCDW aggregate specimen and (b) tripartite-cylinder (150 mm  300 mm).

6. Mechanical properties contents dened previously (four at intermediate effort and four
at modied effort).
6.1. California bearing ratio The results indicated average CBR of 73% and 117% for interme-
diate effort and modied effort, respectively. The bearing capacity
The CBR was conducted according to ASTM D1883. Eight spec- of the RCDW aggregate gets higher, when the compactive effort in-
imens of RCDW aggregate were compacted using the moisture creases. CBR is usually a dispersive test with a fairly difcult
2976 F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979

repeatability, but despite the variation in the results (coefcient of intermediate effort, the resilient moduli vary between 160 and
variation of 19% and 22% for intermediate effort and modied ef- 440 MPa, and for the modied effort between 200 and 500 MPa,
fort, respectively), the CBR for the modied effort was approxi- depending on the bulk stress. Consequently, using a more intensive
mately 60% higher compared to the intermediate effort. The compaction effort, the resilient displacement of the RCDW aggre-
average result obtained for the RCDW aggregate compacted at gate can be reduced from 10% to 20%. The increment observed in
the modied effort is comparable to a high quality well-graded the resilient modulus was not expressive as that in the CBR test.
crushed stone material. Although the same compaction energy was used in both experi-
According to the Federal Highway Administration [15] typical ments, some facts may have contributed to the different increment
CBR values for recycled concrete aggregates are between 94% and observed, as follows: (i) the CBR specimens may not be sufciently
148%. As specied by the Brazilian standard procedure [13], the representative of the original material as the resilient modulus
RCDW aggregate must reach a CBR value of at least 60%, and the specimens. The CBR standard procedure limits the maximum
swelling is limited to 0.5%, in order to be used as a base layer for aggregate size, while the resilient modulus allows the use of the
low-volume roads. The swelling measured was null after soaking same gradation used in the eld; (ii) the connement stress in
in tap water for 4 days for all specimens of RCDW aggregate inves- the CBR test is not representative of the connement stress ob-
tigated. Thus, the studied material fully complies with the Brazilian served in the eld as the one applied in the resilient modulus,
standard, for both compactive efforts. However, it is also important and (iii) the displacements measured in the resilient modulus test
to analyze the response of the RCDW aggregate under repeated are in the elastic region, but the same is not observed in the CBR.
loading. The resilient behavior of the recycled material was also com-
pared to standard road aggregates. The well-graded crushed stone
6.2. Resilient modulus regression model obtained by Rada and Witczak [16] presented
resilient modulus between 165 and 420 MPa (with the bulk stress
The resilient behavior was determined by a repeated load test, varying from 0.1 MPa to 0.8 MPa). Nataatmadja and Tan [17] pre-
based on the AASHTO TP46 specication for soils and aggregate sented the regression models for recycled concrete aggregate.
materials. The AASHTO bulk stress model is expressed as follows: The resilient modulus varied between of 160 and 550 MPa, for
the same bulk stress condition previously mentioned. Based on
M R k1 hk2 1 these results, it is possible to conclude that the resilient modulus
of RCDW aggregate and of recycled concrete aggregate obtained
h r d 3r3 2 in laboratory are similar to that expected for crushed stone.
According to Bennert et al. [3], recycled materials can present high-
where MR is the resilient modulus (MPa); k1, k2 the material param- er values of resilient modulus than natural material currently used
eters based on laboratory results; h the bulk stress (MPa) rd the in pavement construction. This is probably explained by the higher
deviatoric stress (MPa); r3 is the conning stress (MPa).For the angle of internal friction in this type of material, which contributes
resilient modulus tests, two specimens were compacted at interme- to improve the shear resistance. Molenaar and van Niekerk [8] ob-
diate effort and two at modied effort. The RCDW aggregate was served angle of internal friction around 40 for recycled unbound
compacted using the optimum moisture contents and the samples materials, what contributes to the improvement of the shear
obtained were 150 mm in diameter and 300 mm in height. After resistance.
compaction, the specimens were allowed to cure for a period of four
days before testing so as to homogenize its moisture content and
avoid the loss of water. The equipment used for this experiment 6.3. Permanent deformation
is illustrated in Fig. 5.
As illustrated in Fig. 6, the resilient modulus of the RCDW aggre- Repeated load triaxial tests are often used to predict the
gate increases with the increment of the proctor energy. For the permanent deformation of soils and granular materials [18]. These

Fig. 5. Repeated load triaxial test: (a) equipment and (b) principle.
F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979 2977

Fig. 6. Resilient modulus results for the RCDW aggregate.

experiments allow the analysis of the relationship between the where ep is the accumulated permanent strain (103 mm/mm); a
number of loading cycles and the accumulated permanent strain the permanent deformation of the rst cycle (103mm/mm); N
in the specimen. the number of loading cycles; b is the slope of the least-square
Repeated load triaxial tests were conducted in cylindrical spec- regression analysis.The exponential model presented coefcients
imens (150 mm in diameter and 300 mm in height) to evaluate the of determination above 97% (Table 4).
inuence of compaction energy on the permanent deformation of Further tests were conducted using specimens of RCDW aggre-
the RCDW aggregate specimens (compacted at intermediate and gate compacted with modied effort, in order to evaluate potential
modied efforts). The tests were conducted up to 180,000 cycles gain in resistance. The specimens were subjected to four test con-
and submitted to a combining deviatoric stress of 300 kPa and con- ditions: (i) deviatoric stress of 100 kPa and conning stress of
ning stress of 50 kPa, rd/r3 = 6.0 (this ratio is usually smaller than 50 kPa (rd/r3 = 2.0); (ii) deviatoric stress of 200 kPa and conning
10.0 [8]). This stress level was obtained by backcalculation of a stress of 50 kPa (rd/r3 = 4.0); (iii) deviatoric stress of 300 kPa and
pavement structure and it simulates the response of the base and conning stress of 50 kPa (rd/r3 = 6.0); (iv) deviatoric stress of
sub-base layers. 500 kPa and conning stress of 75 kPa (rd/r3 = 6.7). The tests were
As can be seen in Fig. 7, for the same stress level (rd/r3 = 6.0), again carried out up to 180,000 cycles and the results were ana-
the RCDW aggregate compacted at the modied effort presented, lyzed using the shakedown concept applied to pavements dened
after 180,000 cycles, presented permanent deformation approxi- by Sharp and Booker [20]. The shakedown consists in a process of
mately 10% smaller than at the intermediate effort (3.867  adjustment, where after a certain number of load cycles no further
10 3 mm/mm and 4.283  103 mm/mm, respectively). The permanent strains develop and the material responds elastically.
results corroborate the importance of compacting the RCDW Werkmeister et al. [21] observed three types of permanent strain
aggregate at higher energy, in order to improve its mechanical accumulation using the shakedown concept:
The exponential model reported by Monismith et al. [19] was Range A (plastic shakedown range): the material has a plastic
used to predict permanent deformation: response for a nite number of load applications, but after the
postcompaction period, the response becomes resilient and no
ep aNb 3 further permanent deformation occurs.

Fig. 7. Permanent deformation results for the RCDW aggregate.

2978 F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979

Table 4 As shown in Figs. 8 and 9, the permanent deformation of the

Permanent deformation model obtained for the RCDW aggregate. RCDW aggregate is widely inuenced by the stress levels. For the
Proctor effort Exponential model R2 relation rd/r3 = 2.0 the material presents the lowest permanent
Intermediate 0:1027 0.9736 deformation value at 180,000 cycles. Moreover, the RCDW aggre-
ep 1:1754N
Modied 0.9828 gate presented permanent deformation in the beginning of the
ep 1:1215N0:1024
experiment, but after 80,000 cycles the response becomes resil-
ient, reaching the elastic shakedown (Range A). Conversely, at
Range C (incremental collapse): the material has a continuing higher stress levels, such as rd/r3 = 4.0 and rd/r3 = 6.0, there is
incremental plastic deformation with each load cycle, and at an increase in the permanent deformation; during the experi-
high load levels, the response is always plastic in a progressive ment, the strain decreases after 50,000 cycles, and the perma-
increment of the permanent deformation. This behavior can nent deformation continues in a low constant level. In this
result in the failure of the pavement structure. condition, the material has an intermediate response (Range B).
Range B (intermediate response plastic creep): the material For the relation rd/r3 = 6.7, the permanent deformation increases
presents an intermediate response between ranges A and C. progressively with cycles, and at the end of the experiment it is
During the rst load cycles, the material reaches high levels of still higher (Range C). The test was conducted up to 180,000
plastic deformation, but after this period, the level of plastic cycles, but if its duration was extended, the strain would
deformation decreases and becomes close to a constant level. progress up to the specimen collapse. The stress level is particu-
larly important when studying the use of RCDW aggregate in
In order to analyze these ranges of behavior, Werkmeister et al. base layers, because thin asphalt surfaces are commonly used
[21] suggested the permanent deformation results to be plotted as in low-volume roads, resulting in high stress levels in base
permanent vertical strain rate versus permanent vertical cumula- layers. In these conditions, rutting is a distress that should be
tive strain. considered.

Fig. 8. Permanent deformation results for the RCDW aggregate for different stress levels.

Fig. 9. Permanent vertical strain of RCDW aggregates using the shakedown concept.
F.d.C. Leite et al. / Construction and Building Materials 25 (2011) 29722979 2979

7. Conclusions The results obtained in this research encourage the use of RCDW
aggregates as a viable alternative for road construction.
Based on the laboratory study performed on the RCDW aggre-
gate, the following conclusions can be drawn: Acknowledgements

(1) The water absorption varies greatly according to the nature The authors thank FAPESP (Fundao de Amparo Pesquisa do
of the materials. For large occurrence of highly porous cera- Estado de So Paulo) and CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvi-
mic materials, such as bricks and roof tiles, the water mento Cientco e Tecnolgico) for supporting this research.
absorption of the RCDW increases signicantly. It is also pos- References
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