“Development of a Novel Aerogel-Based Modified Bituminous Materials”

March 16, 2022
Dr Carlos J. Obando


Thermal susceptibility is one of the biggest challenges that asphalt pavements must overcome. Asphalt mixture’s thermal susceptibility can increase problems related to permanent deformation, and the expansion-contraction phenomenon triggers thermal cracking. Furthermore, there is a common worldwide interest in environmental impacts and pavements. Save energy and mitigate the urban heat island (UHI) effect are topics that have been drawing the attention of researchers, governments, and industrial organizations. Pavements have played an important role in mitigating the urban heat island effect. Globally, about 90% of roadways are made of asphalt mixtures. In this dissertation, Carlos presents the development and testing of an innovative Aerogel-based product in the modification of asphalt mixtures to function as a material with unique thermal resistance properties for better durability and urban cooling. Modified pavements with this new material showed desirable results in reducing overall pavement temperatures and suppressing the temperature gradient, a key to minimize thermal cracking. The comprehensive laboratory tests showed favorable outcomes for pavement performance. The use of a pavement design software, and life cycle/cost assessment studies supported the use of this newly developed technology.  Modified pavements would perform better than control in distresses related to permanent deformation and thermal cracking; they reduce tire/pavement noise, require less raw material usage during the life cycle of the pavement, and have lower life cycle cost compared to conventional pavements. 

Contributions: Some of the contributions of this research study include the development of a new test to estimate the thermal conductivity of bituminous materials, a new test setup to analyze the expansion-contraction phenomenon of solid materials, the development of a new aerogel-based product, and the design of an algorithm to simulate the pavement thermal profile and stresses. Two of these products with patent applications. Additionally, five scientific articles were published in high impact technical journals such as ASCE, ASTM, Construction and Building Materials, and the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.  

Presentation Slides