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Asphalt Tests

Coverage of test procedures related to the characteristics of asphalt mixes and finished asphalt pavements. Tests include measurement of volumetrics and evaluation of performance parameters.

Figure 7: Close-up of beam with the 4 clamps in place.

Flexural Fatigue

Overview The flexural fatigue test is used to characterize the fatigue life of HMA at intermediate pavement operating temperatures. This characterization is useful because it provides estimates of HMA pavement layer fatigue life under repeated traffic loading. In a well designed pavement, strains in the pavement are low enough so that fatigue is not a … Read more »

Figure 5: Hamburg Wheel Tracking Device (HWTD) from (Stuart and Youtcheff, 2002).

Laboratory Wheel Tracking Devices

Overview Laboratory wheel-tracking devices (Figure 1) are used to run simulative tests that measure HMA qualities by rolling a small loaded wheel device repeatedly across a prepared HMA specimen. Performance of the test specimen is then correlated to actual in-service pavement performance. Laboratory wheel-tracking devices can be used to make rutting, fatigue, moisture susceptibility and … Read more »

Figure 1: Fatigue cracking caused by stripping.

Moisture Susceptibility

Moisture susceptibility is a primary cause of distress in HMA pavements. HMA should not degrade substantially from moisture penetration into the mix. HMA mixtures may be considered susceptible to moisture if the internal asphalt binder-to-aggregate bond weakens in the presence of water. This weakening, if severe enough, can result in stripping (Figure 1). To measure … Read more »

Figure 9: Inserting the sample into the hot ignition oven.

Binder Content

Overview Asphalt binder content affects HMA mixture performance in the areas of stiffness, strength, durability, fatigue life, raveling, rutting and moisture damage. Therefore, it is important in HMA quality assurance, pavement forensic investigations and HMA research. The ignition test is the most common method used to determine HMA asphalt binder content. In the ignition method … Read more »

Figure 1. Maximum theoretical specific gravity sample.

Theoretical Maximum Specific Gravity

Overview The theoretical maximum specific gravity (Gmm) of a HMA mixture is the specific gravity excluding air voids. Thus, theoretically, if all the air voids were eliminated from an HMA sample, the combined specific gravity of the remaining aggregate and asphalt binder would be the theoretical maximum specific gravity. Theoretical maximum specific gravity can be … Read more »

Bulk Specific Gravity_FI

Bulk Specific Gravity

Overview The bulk specific gravity test is used to determine the specific gravity of a compacted HMA sample by determining the ratio of its weight to the weight of an equal volume of water. The bulk specific gravity test measures a HMA sample’s weight under three different conditions (Figure 1): Dry (no water in sample). … Read more »

Figure 2: Simple performance test (SPT) testing machine.

Asphalt Mixture Performance Test

Overview The asphalt mixture performance tester (AMPT) is the companion performance test for use with the Superpave mix design procedure. Although the original SHRP asphalt research program was essentially done by 1993, it did not include a performance test for use with the rest of the Superpave mix design procedure. The AMPT is actually a … Read more »

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Flash Point

A typical flash point test involves heating a small sample of asphalt binder in a test cup. The temperature of the sample is increased and at specified intervals a test flame is passed across the cup. The flash point is the lowest liquid temperature at which application of the test flame causes the vapors of … Read more »


Mixture Characterization Tests

Mixture characterization tests are used to describe fundamental mixture parameters such as density and asphalt binder content.  The three primary mixture characterization tests discussed here are: Bulk specific gravity Theoretical maximum specific gravity Asphalt content/gradation Bulk Specific Gravity Bulk specific gravity is essentially the density of a compacted (laboratory or field) HMA specimen.  The bulk … Read more »


HMA Performance Tests

Performance tests are used to relate laboratory mix design to actual field performance.  The Hveem (stabilometer) and Marshall (stability and flow) mix design methods use only one or two basic performance tests.  Superpave is intended to use a better and more fundamental performance test.  However, performance testing is the one area of Superpave yet to … Read more »

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