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Effects of manufactured fine aggregate on physical and mechanistic properties of Saskatchewan asphalt concrete mixes



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Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation (SDHT) rely on dense-graded hot mix asphalt concrete mixes for construction and rehabilitation of asphalt pavement surfaced highways. As a result of increased commercial truck traffic on the provincial road network, over the last two decades, some of Saskatchewan’s recently placed dense graded hot mix asphalt concrete (HMAC) pavements have been observed to show a susceptibility to premature permanent deformation in the asphalt mix. One of the aggregate properties thought to have significant influence on mix performance under traffic loading is the shape of the aggregate. Specifically, the physical properties of the fine aggregate (smaller than 5 mm in diameter) are of particular importance in dense graded mixes. Although empirical evidence suggests that there are performance benefits associated with using angular fine aggregate, the relationship of this parameter on mechanistic mix performance and resistance to permanent deformation has not yet been clearly defined.The primary objective of this research was to conduct laboratory analysis to determine the physical, empirical, and mechanistic behaviour sensitivity to the proportion of manufactured and natural fine aggregate in SDHT Type 72 hot mix asphalt concrete. The second objective of this research was to compare the mechanistic behaviour of the Type 72 mixes considered in this research to conventional SDHT Type 70 structural hot mix asphalt concrete.Physical and mechanistic properties of a SDHT Type 72 mix at levels of 20, 40, and 60 percent manufactured fines as a portion of total fines (smaller than 5 mm), and for a SDHT Type 70 mix (which contained 38 percent manufactured fines) were evaluated. Ten repeat samples were compacted for each mix using 75-blow Marshall compaction, and ten samples for each mix were compacted using the Superpave™ gyratory compaction protocols. Marshall stability and flow testing was conducted on the Marshall-compacted samples. Triaxial frequency sweep testing was conducted on the gyratory-compacted samples using the Rapid Triaxial Tester (RaTT) at 20°C. The testing was conducted at axial loading frequencies of 10 and 0.5 Hz, and at deviatoric stress states of 370, 425, and 500 kPa, respectively. The resulting dynamic modulus, axial and radial microstrains, Poisson’s ratio, and phase angle were evaluated.The research hypothesis stated that the increased amount of manufactured fines improves mechanistic properties of the Type 72 mix under typical field state conditions, and Type 72 mix with increased manufactured fines can exhibit mechanistic properties equivalent to or exceeding those of a typical type 70 mix. Based on the improved densification properties, increased Marshall stability, increased dynamic modulus, and reduced radial and axial strains, it was demonstrated that increasing manufactured fines content in the SDHT Type 72 mix does improve the mechanistic properties of this dense-graded asphalt mix. It should be noted that there appears to be a minimum level of manufactured fines content that is required to affect mix response to loading, and that this threshold lies somewhere between 40 and 60 percent manufactured fines content for the Type 72 mix tested as part of this research.Further, the Type 72 mix exhibited comparable or improved mechanistic properties relative to the Type 70 mix, which SDHT consider a structural mix. This is illustrated by the Type 72 mix with 60 percent manufactured fines resulting in higher Marshall stability and dynamic modulus, and lower axial microstrains than the Type 70 mix evaluated in this study.It is recommended that other Type 72 and Type 70 mixes are evaluated using similar testing protocols. In addition, field test sections should be used to further verify the research hypothesis investigated here. Economic analysis indicates that substantial savings in life cycle costs of SHDT asphalt concrete surfaced roadways can be realized by engineering well-performing, rut-resistant mixes. The life cycle costs can be reduced annually by approximately $7.4 million, which translates into $102.5 million savings over 18 years, during which the entire pavement network would be resurfaced with well-performing asphalt concrete mixes.Further, enhanced crushing of smaller aggregate top size decreases the amount of rejected material, and increases manufactured fines to coarse aggregate ratio, resulting not only in better engineering properties, but also in the optimized use of the province’s diminishing gravel resources. Pressures on aggregate sources are also reduced by improving life cycle performance of Saskatchewan asphalt concrete pavements. The total potential aggregate savings that can be realized by implementing well-performing Type 72 HMAC mixes amount to 4.3 million metric tonnes of aggregate in the next 42 years. These aggregate savings can help decrease the predicted shortage of aggregate between 2007 and 2049 by approximately 6 percent. The total potential cost savings after 18 years of paving 500 km per year with rut-resistant, well-performing HMAC mixes amount to $112.4 million in present value dollars. The 42 year savings amount to $193.7 million in present day dollars. It is recommended that a more detailed economic analysis be carried out.



RaTT Cell, triaxial frequency sweep, dynamic modulus, mechanistic testing



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering


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