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Modelling the stiffness development in asphalt concrete to obtain fatigue failure criteria

Chen, Anqi; Airey, Gordon D.; Thom, Nick; Litherland, Jack; Adjetey Nii-Adjei, Rufus

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Anqi Chen

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Professor of Pavement Engineering Materials

Assistant Professor

Jack Litherland

Rufus Adjetey Nii-Adjei


The study of fatigue is critical to good usability and durability of asphalt pavements. Inaccurate calculation of the fatigue failure criteria can cause incorrect evaluation of the fatigue performance, leading to inaccurate prediction of the pavement performance and poor maintenance planning. This paper develops a stiffness change tendency method (SCTM) that can be used to model the stiffness evolution in asphalt concrete and determine critical laboratory fatigue failure points to characterise different fatigue damage stages. A logistic model was selected to represent the relationship between the log of the stiffness (E) and the log of the number of cycles (N) obtained from two-point bending (2PB) fatigue tests. The measured stiffness reduction versus loading curves were determined for a range of asphalt mixtures in unaged, aged and moisture damaged conditions by testing at various temperatures and strains. By analysing the derivatives of the logistic model, it is possible to identify three transition points associated with fatigue progression. There is good agreement between the laboratory data and the logistic model proposed, confirming that the logistic model is a good approximation to the stiffness reduction curves. The number of loading cycles associated with the first two transition points in the SCTM (NP1 and NP2) were compared to the value of N1 and Nfm obtained from the energy ratio (ER) method and the ratio of dissipated energy change (RDEC) method, respectively. There are no statistically-significant differences between the SCTM and two energy-based methods, proving that P1 can be viewed as the number of cycles to micro-crack initiation and propagation, and P2 can be defined as the macro-crack generation point (the true failure point). Three different mixtures are subjected to four-point bending (4PB) fatigue tests to demonstrate the applicability of the SCTM with different bitumen types, mixture grades and test methods. The SCTM provides a method to model stiffness development, obtain different fatigue failure criteria and characterise different fatigue damage stages, which could be useful in a simulation of pavement deterioration.


Chen, A., Airey, G. D., Thom, N., Litherland, J., & Adjetey Nii-Adjei, R. (2021). Modelling the stiffness development in asphalt concrete to obtain fatigue failure criteria. Construction and Building Materials, 306, Article 124837.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 11, 2021
Publication Date Nov 1, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 12, 2022
Journal Construction and Building Materials
Print ISSN 0950-0618
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 306
Article Number 124837
Keywords General Materials Science; Building and Construction; Civil and Structural Engineering
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