Phase 3 (2007 Deadline)
Implementation of SuperPave Binder and Asphalt Mix Specification to
Improve Pavement Performance in Pakistan
Gilbert Baladi, Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing
M. Waseem Mirza, University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $ 411,000
US Funding: $ 189,000
Project Dates on US Side: April 1, 2008 - November 30, 2011
The Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) industry in developing countries in general and in Pakistan in particular is facing a substantial challenge to meet transportation demands caused by ever increasing traffic volume and loads. High ambient temperatures and heavy truck loads further complicate the problem and accelerate premature pavement failure in Pakistan. This in turn taxes the limited resources of the road network and places an undue burden on the country’s socioeconomic development. In order to meet the challenge, the HMA industry and the transportation authorities must enhance the design of HMA and improve the selection of materials used in highway construction. These tasks require a better understanding of the impact of design methodologies and material characteristics on long-term pavement performance. Although most of the primary road network in Pakistan is surfaced using HMA, the mixes have not been properly characterized to assess their long-term performance under heavy loads. This project entails evaluating the physical, engineering, and rheological properties of the various constituent materials of the HMA mixes (asphalt binder and coarse and fine aggregates) and analyzing the impacts of these properties on long-term pavement performance under prevailing traffic and environmental conditions in Pakistan. In summary, the goal of this study is to assist the Pakistani highway authorities and relevant industries and to train personnel in Pakistan to implement advanced testing techniques for the characterization of HMA mixes so as to optimize pavement performance in a cost-effective manner. As part of this effort, the US partners will work with their counterparts at UET Lahore and representatives of government agencies and industry to develop and initiate an integrated pavement research program.
- Introduced Superpave binder and HMA (hot mix asphalt) characterizations for the first time in Pakistan
- Improved teaching curriculum by introducing state-of-the-art Superpave technology for undergraduate and graduate programs at University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore
- Trained professionals from both public and private sectors for using Superpave technology
- Research results provided both technical and policy recommendations to Pakistani highway authorities and road construction industry
During the spring and summer of 2011, Dr. Waseem Mirza and his colleagues at UET’s Material Testing Laboratory have been busy preparing different asphalt mixtures using both the traditional Marshall and new SuperPave mix design methods and then testing their performance characteristics against typical local asphalt mixes. Thanks to new equipment the lab acquired under this project, they have also been able to begin working on research involving asphalt binder extraction and recovery. By extracting binder material from lab and field samples, they can determine how different types of binders are aging, a key element in determining pavement performance. In the meantime, the US research team has remained in regular communication with the Pakistani researchers to discuss and evaluate their laboratory testing results. As planned, Dr. Mirza visited Michigan State University in the last week of June to review and evaluate the testing results and discuss the final report. Earlier in June he and two UET colleagues presented a paper on their binder characterization work at a conference in Greece, and they also published another paper on their research in the Pakistani Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences.. Due to security concerns, the US research team was not able to visit Pakistan as scheduled; however, the team is planning a possible visit during the next quarter depending on the security situation in Pakistan. During the coming months, research efforts on both sides will continue to focus on asphalt mixture design and performance evaluation, and further sessions will be held to train students and highway engineers on using the UET lab’s new testing equipment for mixture performance testing.
Progress Report Summaries for Previous Years
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2010 Show summary || Hide summary
In 2010 the research team on U.S. side trained several graduate students and laboratory technicians on SuperPave tests on binders. Researchers on both sides communicated on a regular basis to discuss and evaluate the laboratory test results. About 15 highway engineers and professionals from the academic sector were trained through a 5-day training course in the U.S. and the subsequent training at UET, Lahore where about 3 faculty, 10 graduate students, and 10 staff were involved. The results of the project further modified and enriched contents of several university curriculums in Pakistan. Benefited from the newly established Department of Transportation Engineering and Management at UET, Lahore, the research team in Pakistan got a larger laboratory space and received contributed funds for purchase of additional basic equipment as well as assistance in procuring some of the equipment under this project.
As the materials testing are completed, six technical papers have been accepted for presentations and publication and it is expected that more technical reports and papers will result from this research project by the end of the study. In addition to the technical reports, there are five master level thesis topics are expected from this study. At the same time, partnerships and collaborations which are essential to develop an implementable and a practical product have been developed between highway agencies / industry and the project team.
The research project has been challenged by some equipment delivery, installation, and training delays due to the suppliers and procurement procedures. Irregular occurrences of power shutdowns have also causes delays. The current major issue stalls the project is the inability to prepare Gyratory compacted specimen. Once the equipment is repaired and operational, the research team will resume the mix design and performance testing on Gyratory prepared samples.
2009 Show summary || Hide summary
In 2009 these researchers worked to complete the literature review, collect samples of asphalt materials and actual pavement cores, and initiate binder and performance tests using the new laboratory equipment. Drs. Baladi and Haider had planned to visit Lahore in March 2009 in order to present a one-day course on SuperPave asphalt binder and mixture characterization, monitor and evaluate the laboratory tests and procedures, and meet with the chairperson and engineers from the National Highway Authorities (NHA) to discuss the possible implementation of SuperPave technology for highway construction in Pakistan. The visit was postponed until the spring of 2010 at the earliest due to the security situation, but meanwhile the US partners on the project have provided training to five Pakistani graduate students and lab technicians via videoconferencing. The two sides remain in frequent contact in 2010 as they continue their planned tests, work on joint technical reports and papers, and mentor four Pakistani master's degree students as they complete their thesis projects. Once Drs. Baladi and Haider are able to travel to Lahore their visit will also include meetings and activities relevant to their now-completed grant under Phase 1 of the program. Contacts established during that project, including with the national and provincial highway authorities, refineries, and other Pakistani universities, will be particularly valuable in this new research collaboration.
In order to develop awareness among the highway community on SuperPave technology, a project website was designed and developed to continuously provide information about new equipment and updated test results. The climate database and temperature zoning for high and low pavement temperature were developed as the initial steps for establishing the required PG grades for local climatic conditions in Pakistan. According to the research plan in 2009, a total of 22 originals and blended binders were selected for the initial evaluation in 2010 and viscosity temperature susceptibility analyses have been completed for all 22 binders. Besides the binder testing, research team also reviewed and evaluated the existing Pakistani procedures, specifications, and practices regarding the constituent materials of HMA mixes. The results of this review are being applied to determine the differences and similarities between the local practices in Pakistan and the state-of-the-art practices.
2008 Show summary || Hide summary
The U.S. side began its work in April 2008, while the Pakistani side did not receive its grant until July, after which Dr. Mirza began the process of hiring a research associate and recruiting five graduate students to assist with the project. The teams reviewed existing literature and gathered information on existing Pakistani practices regarding asphalt characterization. Using HEC funds provided for this project, about $100,000 worth of laboratory equipment has been purchased and delivered to UET in 2009, and thanks to funds provided separately by UET and by other HEC grants, an additional $100,000 worth has already been installed.
Meanwhile, two members of the Pakistani research team (Dr. Mirza and Mr. Farhan Haider) visited the United States from October 19 to November 3, 2008. The main focus of their visit was a 5-day training course at the National Center of Asphalt Technology in Auburn, Alabama. The course provided them with extensive hands-on training for conducting SuperPave tests on asphalt binders and asphalt mixtures. Next they visited Arizona State University’s SuperPave laboratory to familiarize themselves with Simple Performance Equipment that is proposed for purchase in the second year budget of this project. While in Arizona they also visited Geotechnical Consulting and Testing Services, a company that develops servo-hydraulic systems for asphalt testing. Finally, they traveled to Michigan State University to meet with the US research team to discuss and revise the research plan and finalize the study activities to be accomplished in the next year. They also had the opportunity to visit the asphalt laboratories of the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Spartan asphalt mixing plant in Lansing, and various paving construction sites, where they observed the field construction process and asphalt paving operations.
After returning home to UET, Dr. Mirza and Mr. Haider shared what they had learned with other faculty members, students, and technical staff members. This technology transfer and the introduction of the new equipment purchased through this project have expanded the scopes of several courses at UET. Performance-based material evaluation and mix design procedures are being incorporated in the course syllabi, and laboratory components of the courses will include material characterization using the SuperPave approach.
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