Development of the C* fracture test for asphalt concrete mixtures
Laboratory assessment of crack resistance and propagation in asphalt concrete is a difficult task that challenges researchers and engineers. Several fracture mechanics based laboratory tests currently exist; however, these tests and subsequent analysis methods rely on elastic behavior assumptions and do not consider the time-dependent nature of asphalt concrete. The C* Line Integral test has shown promise to capture crack resistance and propagation within asphalt concrete. In addition, the fracture mechanics based C* parameter considers the time-dependent creep behavior of the materials. However, previous research was limited and lacked standardized test procedure and detailed data analysis methods were not fully presented. This dissertation describes the development and refinement of the C* Fracture Test (CFT) based on concepts of the C* line integral test. The CFT is a promising test to assess crack propagation and fracture resistance especially in modified mixtures. A detailed CFT test protocol was developed based on a laboratory study of different specimen sizes and test conditions. CFT numerical simulations agreed with laboratory results and indicated that the maximum horizontal tensile stress (Mode I) occurs at the crack tip but diminishes at longer crack lengths when shear stress (Mode II) becomes present. Using CFT test results and the principles of time-temperature superposition, a crack growth rate master curve was successfully developed to describe crack growth over a range of test temperatures. This master curve can be applied to pavement design and analysis to describe crack propagation as a function of traffic conditions and pavement temperatures. Several plant mixtures were subjected to the CFT and results showed differences in resistance to crack propagation, especially when comparing an asphalt rubber mixture to a conventional one. Results indicated that crack propagation is ideally captured within a given range of dynamic modulus values. Crack growth rates and C* prediction models were successfully developed for all unmodified mixtures in the CFT database. These models can be used to predict creep crack propagation and the C* parameter when laboratory testing is not feasible. Finally, a conceptual approach to incorporate crack growth rate and the C* parameter into pavement design and analysis was presented.