Characterising the asphalt concrete fracture performance from X-ray CT Imaging and finite element modelling

Hainian Wang*, Chonghui Wang, Zhanping You, Xu Yang, Zhihan Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crack distress causes asphalt pavement failure under repeated traffic loading. The objective of this study is to investigate the fracture properties of asphalt concrete through three dimensional (3D) numerical simulation using finite element method (FEM). The parameters and datum utilised for finite element models were captured from a grey matrix, which can be converted from digital images scanned by an X-ray computed tomography (CT) apparatus. Afterwards, the uniaxial compression test was simulated using FEM and was also conducted in laboratory to study the stress distribution and to evaluate the degree of damage during the loading process. Eighteen cylindrical asphalt concrete specimens were prepared with three different types of gradations: asphalt concrete, stone matrix asphalt and open-graded friction course. The uniaxial compression test was carried out on these specimens. Before and after each step, the specimens were scanned using X-ray CT to analyse the crack growth behaviour inside the asphalt concrete and to investigate the effect of gradation on the fracture characteristics. The degree of fracture can be evaluated by data analysis from the grey intensity histogram. The evaluation on asphalt concrete crack properties based on FEM with X-ray CT imaging was found to be practicable and reproducible. Additionally, the gradation was found to be an influential factor affecting the crack propagation of asphalt concrete.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-318
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Pavement Engineering
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) [grant number 51378074], [grant number 51578075]; the Fundamental and Applied Research Project of the Chinese National Transportation Department [grant number 2014 319 812 180], and the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Central Colleges, Chang’an University [grant number CHD310821153503].


  • Asphalt concrete
  • cracking
  • finite element modelling
  • image processing
  • X-ray computed tomography


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