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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program                                                            
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

Project Overview

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.

Major Results

  • 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

Quarterly Update

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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