Three-dimensional simulation of aggregate and asphalt mixture using parameterized shape and size gradation

Jue Li, Junhui Zhang*, Guoping Qian, Jianlong Zheng, Yuqing Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aggregate occupies at least three-quarters of the volume of asphalt mixture and can significantly affect the performance of pavement. The geometrical morphology influences the slippage and interlock among aggregates for resisting and distributing applied loads. In recent years, the discrete-element method (DEM) has been employed for simulation of asphalt mixture structure. This paper introduces an approach for simulation of aggregate and asphalt mixtures using parameterized shape and size gradation. Both the plane geometry factor (PGF) and the section aspect ratio (SAR) were employed to describe the three-dimensional (3D) geometric characteristics of aggregates. A numerical technique of aggregate models was implemented with probabilistic parameters depending on statistical results of PGFs and SARs. The 3D numerical model of asphalt mixtures was assembled with three different components, and was validated by uniaxial compression tests via comparison with the laboratory result. It was found that the PGF and SAR are appropriate to describe the three-dimensional features of aggregate shapes, because a simplified space object can be described by a two-dimensional (2D) graphical projection and a vector scalar corresponding to the space vector. Probability distribution curves of PGFs and SARs between coarse aggregates were in concordance with the Gauss-type function, because their correlation coefficients were all greater than 95%. It was verified that the developed clumping algorithm of aggregates was reasonable in terms of the shape and size gradation. Based on the parallel-bond model and Burger's model, the results of virtual tests were in good agreement with those of laboratory uniaxial tests. The angularity (PGF) of aggregates has a beneficial effect on the strength and stability of asphalt mixtures, whereas the flat-elongated feature (SAR) has a negative effect on the strength and stability of asphalt mixtures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04019004
JournalJournal of Materials in Civil Engineering
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019, American Society of Civil Engineers


  • Asphalt mixtures
  • Discrete-element method
  • Irregular aggregates
  • Parameterized shape
  • Three-dimensional simulation


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