Asphalt concrete is commonly used as the surface layer in many pavement structures. One of the most important characteristics of asphalt concrete is its cracking resistance. At present, the conventional engineering material parameters such as tensile strength and dynamic modulus are the parameters used in the process of flexible pavement designs. In order to improve the design process, development and use of mechanistic-based design methods are necessary. These methods require characteristics that accounts for fracture resistance of asphalt concrete materials such as fracture energy. Thus, the use of a fracture mechanics approach and the development of valid fracture tests which are able to extract fundamental fracture properties of asphalt concrete are crucial. The goals of this research were to first introduce and evaluate a new and more practical fracture test, called single-edge notched disk (SEND) test, that can be easily used to characterize fracture properties of asphalt concrete, and second, to describe testing and analysis technique used in this investigation. As compared to other available fracture tests, the SEND test had several advantages, including capability of using field specimens, easy specimen preparation and test procedure, simple load configuration and test fixtures, big fractured surface area, and capability to induce cracks to propagate across the pavement thickness. Since the SEND test combined materials’ visoelastic deformation with fracture, it was able to simulate real life failure in pavements more accurately as compared to other existing fracture tests. The scope of this study was on laboratory and field compacted, dense graded asphalt mixture specimens. The results of the study clearly showed the ability of the SEND test to characterize fracture properties of various types of asphalt concrete mixtures at different testing temperatures, loading rates, and air void levels.
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