Specific Gravity of Aggregate

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Specific Gravity of Aggregate

© All Rights Reserved

- Determination of Specific Gravity by Pcynometer Test
- Specific Gravity of Coarse Aggregates
- SPECIFIC GRAVITY AND ABSORPTION OF FINE AGGREGATE
- Specific Gravity and Absorption of Coarse and Fine Aggregates
- Sieve Analysis of Fine and Course Aggregates
- Experiment No.2 Specific Gravity and Absorption of Fine Aggregate
- SPECIFIC GRAVITY AND ABSORPTION OF COARSE AGGRAGATE
- specific gravity and water absorption of coarse aggregate.pdf
- Sieve analysis
- Concrete Mixing and Testing Lab Report
- Fine Aggregate Specific Gravity
- Specific Gravity of Coarse Aggregate
- Sieve Analysis of Fine Aggregate
- ASTM C 127
- Experiment No.1 Specific Gravity and Absorption of Coarse Aggregate
- Bulk Density Test
- Determination of Partical Size Distribution of Aggregate
- Compressive Strength of Mortar Cubes assignment
- Experiment- Determination of Unit Weight and Voids of Aggregares 2
- C4 - Sieve Analysis (Aggregate Grading) for Fine and Coarse Aggregate

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the void content in compacted HMA (Roberts et al., 1996[1]). AASHTO M 132 and ASTM E

12 define specific gravity as:

the ratio of the mass of a unit volume of a material at a stated temperature to the mass of

the same volume of gas-free distilled water at a stated temperature.

The commonly used stated temperature is 23 C (73.4 F). Given the structure of a typical

aggregate particle, there are several different kinds of specific gravity. This section will first

describe the structure of a typical aggregate particle and then discuss each type of specific

gravity and its use.

Aggregate Particle Structure

A typical aggregate particle consists of some amount of solid material along with a certain

amount of air voids. These air voids within the aggregate particle (Figure 1) can become

filled with water, binder or both (Figure 2). It takes a finite amount of time for water/binder to

penetrate these pores, so specific gravity test procedures generally contain a 15 to 19-hour

(for AASHTO procedures) or a 24-hour (for ASTM procedures) soak period for the purpose

of allowing penetration into these pores.

Depending upon how aggregate voids are dealt with, calculated aggregate specific gravities

can vary. If they are excluded entirely, then the specific gravity is that of the solid portion of

the aggregate only, while if they are included entirely then the specific gravity essentially

becomes a weighted average of the specific gravity of the solid aggregate and whatever is in

its voids.

Generally, there are three different aggregate specific gravities used in association with

pavements:

1. Bulk

2. Apparent

3. Effective

Overview

The coarse aggregate specific gravity test (Figure 1) is used to calculate the specific gravity

of a coarse aggregate sample by determining the ratio of the weight of a given volume of

aggregate to the weight of an equal volume of water. It is similar in nature to the fine

aggregate specific gravity test.

The coarse aggregate specific gravity test measures coarse aggregate weight under three

different sample conditions:

Saturated surface-dry (SSD, water fills the aggregate pores).

Using these three weights and their relationships, a samples apparent specific gravity, bulk

specific gravity and bulk SSD specific gravity as well as absorption can be calculated.

Aggregate specific gravity is needed to determine weight-to-volume relationships and to

calculate various volume-related quantities such as voids in mineral aggregate (VMA), and

voids filled by asphalt (VFA). Absorption can be used as an indicator of aggregate durability

as well as the volume of asphalt binder it is likely to absorb.

The standard coarse aggregate specific gravity and absorption test is:

Aggregate

Background

Specific gravity is a measure of a materials density (mass per unit volume) as compared to

the density of water at 73.4F (23C). Therefore, by definition, water at a temperature of

73.4F (23C) has a specific gravity of 1.

Absorption, which is also determined by the same test procedure, is a measure of the amount

of water that an aggregate can absorb into its pore structure. Pores that absorb water are also

referred to as water permeable voids.

Specific Gravity Use

design, deleterious particle identification and separation, and material property change

identification.

Superpave Mix Design

Superpave mix design is a volumetric process; it relies on mixing constituent materials on the

basis of their volume. However, aggregate and asphalt binder volumes are difficult to

measure directly, therefore a materials weight is typically measured and then converted to a

volume based on its specific gravity. Correct and accurate material specific gravity

determinations are vital to proper mix design. An incorrect specific gravity value will result

in incorrect calculated volumes and ultimately result in an incorrect mix design.

Specific gravity can also indicate possible material contamination. For instance, deleterious

particles (Figure 2) are often lighter than aggregate particles and therefore, a large amount of

deleterious material in an aggregate sample may result in an abnormally low specific gravity.

Figure 2: Deleterious Materials.

Differences in specific gravity can also be used to separate deleterious, or bad,

particles from aggregate particles using a heavy media liquid. Water absorption

can also be an indicator of asphalt absorption.

Material Change Indicator

Finally, specific gravity differences can be used to indicate a possible material change. A

change in aggregate mineral or physical properties can result in a change in specific gravity.

For instance, if a quarry operation constantly monitors the specific gravity of its output

aggregate, a change in specific gravity beyond that normally expected could indicate the

quarrying has moved into a new rock formation with significantly different mineral or

physical properties.

Aggregate Absorption Use

Aggregate absorption is the increase in mass due to water in the pores of the material.

Aggregate absorption is a useful quality because:

1. High values can indicate non-durable aggregate.

2. Absorption can indicate the amount of asphalt binder the aggregate will

absorb.

It is generally desirable to avoid highly absorptive aggregate in HMA. This is because asphalt

binder that is absorbed by the aggregate is not available to coat the aggregate particle surface

and is therefore not available for bonding. Therefore, highly absorptive aggregates (often

specified as over 5 percent absorption) require more asphalt binder to develop the same film

thickness as less absorptive aggregates making the resulting HMA more expensive.

Aggregate Specific Gravity Types

Several different types of specific gravity are commonly used depending upon how the

volume of water permeable voids (or pores) within the aggregate are addressed (Figure 3):

Figure 3: Aggregate Specific Gravities.

the volume of the aggregate particle; it does not include the volume of

any water permeable voids. The mass measurement only includes the

aggregate particle. Apparent specific gravity is intended to only measure

the specific gravity of the solid volume, therefore it will be the highest of

mass of a unit volume of the impermeable portion of aggregate (does not

include the permeable pores in aggregate) to the mass of an equal volume

of gas-free distilled water at the stated temperature.

Bulk Specific Gravity (Bulk Dry Specific Gravity), G sb. The volume

measurement includes the overall volume of the aggregate particle as well

as the volume of the water permeable voids. The mass measurement only

includes the aggregate particle. Since it includes the water permeable void

volume, bulk specific gravity will be less than apparent specific gravity. It

is formally defined as the ratio of the mass of a unit volume of aggregate,

including the water permeable voids, at a stated temperature to the mass

of an equal volume of gas-free distilled water at the stated temperature.

Bulk

Saturated

Surface

Dry

(SSD)

Specific

Gravity.

Volume

as the volume of the water permeable voids. The mass measurement

includes the aggregate particle as well as the water within the water

permeable voids. It is formally defined as the ratio of the mass of a unit

volume of aggregate, including the weight of water within the voids filled

to the extent achieved by submerging in water for approximately 15

hours, to the mass of an equal volume of gas-free distilled water at the

stated temperature.

volume of the aggregate particle plus the void volume that becomes filled

with water during the test soak period minus the volume of the voids that

absorb asphalt. Effective specific gravity lies between apparent and bulk

specific gravity. It is formally defined as the ratio of the mass in air of a

unit volume of a permeable material (excluding voids permeable to

asphalt) at a stated temperature to the mass in air (of equal density) of an

equal volume of gas-free distilled water at a stated temperature. Effective

specific gravity is determined by a different procedure and is not covered

in this section.

Figure 4: Abbreviations.

The difference between Gsa and Gsb is the volume of aggregate used in

the calculations. The difference between these volumes is the volume of

absorbed water in the aggregates permeable voids. Both use the

aggregates oven dry weight.

The difference between Gsb and bulk (SSD) specific gravity is the weight

of aggregate used in the calculations. The difference between these

weights is the weight of absorbed water in the aggregates permeable

voids. Both use the same aggregate volume.

The difference between Gsa, Gse and Gsb is the volume of aggregate used

in the calculations. All three use the aggregates oven dry weight.

1. Gsa Gse Gsb

2. Bulk (SSD) specific gravity Gsb

3. Aggregate specific gravities (Gsb, Gsa,Gse and bulk SSD specific

gravity ) are all Gmm (because Gmm includes the asphalt binder,

which has a lower specific gravity than the aggregate)

Test Description

The following description is a brief summary of the test. It is not a complete procedure and

should not be used to perform the test. The complete procedure can be found in:

Aggregate

Summary

The mass of a coarse aggregate sample is determine in SSD, oven-dry and submerged states.

These values are then used to calculate bulk specific gravity(Gsb), bulk SSD specific gravity,

apparent specific gravity(Gsa) and absorption. Figure 5 shows major coarse aggregate

specific gravity equipment.

Approximate Test Time

Basic Procedure

1. Obtain a sample of coarse aggregate material retained on the No. 4 (4.75 mm) sieve

(Figure 6). This sample size is based on nominal maximum aggregate size (NMAS). Sample

sizes range from 2000 g for a 0.5 inch (12.5 mm) NMAS to 5000 g for a 1.5 inch (37.5 mm)

NMAS.

2. Prepare the material.

Wash the aggregate retained on the No. 4 (4.75 mm) sieve. This discards

small aggregate particles clinging to the retained large particles.

Dry the material until it maintains a constant mass. This indicates that all

the water has left the sample. Drying should occur in an oven regulated at

230F (110C).

19 hours (Figure 7).

WARNING

If the aggregate is not oven-dried before soaking, specific gravity values may be significantly

higher. This is because in the normal procedure the water may not be able to penetrate the

pores to the center of the aggregate particle during the soaking time. If the aggregate is not

oven-dry to start, the existing water in the aggregate pore structure may be able to penetrate

further into the pores (AASHTO, 2000c[1]).

3. Dry the sample to a saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. Rolling up the aggregate into

the towel and then shaking and rolling the aggregate from side to side is usually effective in

reducing the sample to a SSD condition (Video 1). It may be necessary to wipe the larger

particles separately. Once there are no visible signs of water film on the aggregate particle

surfaces, determine the sample mass.

WARNING

Make sure to use cloth and not paper towels. Paper towels may absorb water in the aggregate

pores.

4. Place the entire sample in a basket (Figure 8) and weigh it underwater (Figure 9). The

basket should be pre-conditioned to the water bath temperature. Shake the container to

release any entrapped air before weighing. The container overflow needs to work properly to

compensate for the water displaced by the sample.

weighing.

5. Remove the aggregate from the water and dry it until it maintains a constant mass. This

indicates that all the water has left the sample. Drying should occur in an oven regulated at

230F (110C).

6. Cool the aggregate in air at room temperature for 1 to 3 hours then determine the mass.

Results

Parameters Measured

1. Coarse aggregate bulk specific gravity.

2. Coarse aggregate bulk SSD specific gravity.

3. Coarse aggregate apparent specific gravity.

4. Coarse aggregate absorption.

Specifications

There are no minimum or maximum specific gravity or absorption values in Superpave mix

design. Rather, specific gravity is an aggregate quality needed to make required volume

calculations. Some state agencies specify minimum aggregate specific gravities or maximum

percent water absorption to help control aggregate quality.

Typical Values

Specific gravities can vary widely depending upon aggregate type. Some lightweight shales

(not used in HMA production) can have specific gravities near 1.050, while other aggregate

can have specific gravities above 3.000. Typically, aggregate used in HMA production will

have a bulk specific gravity between about 2.400 and 3.000 with 2.700 being fairly typical of

limestone. Bulk SSD specific gravities can be on the order of 0.050 to 0.100 higher than bulk

oven dry specific gravities, while apparent specific gravities can be 0.050 to 0.100 higher

still.

For a particular aggregate type or source, fine aggregate specific gravities can be slightly

higher than coarse aggregate specific gravities because as the aggregate particles get smaller,

the fraction of pores exposed to the aggregate surface (and thus excluded from the specific

gravity calculation because they are water-permeable) increases.

Aggregate absorption can also vary widely depending upon aggregate type. Some lightweight

shales (not used in HMA production) can have absorptions approaching 30 percent, while

other aggregate types can have near zero absorption. Typically, aggregate used in HMA

production will have an absorption between just above zero and 5 percent. Absorptions above

about 5 percent tend to make HMA mixtures uneconomical because extra asphalt binder is

required to account for the high aggregate absorption.

If absorption is incorrectly accounted for, the resulting HMA could be overly dry and have

low durability (absorption calculated lower than it actually is) or over-asphalted and

susceptible to distortion and rutting (absorption calculated higher than it actually is).

Calculations (see Interactive Equation)

Three different masses are recorded during the test. Their common symbols are:

A = mass of oven-dry sample in air (g)

B = mass of SSD sample in air (g)

C = mass of SSD sample in water (g)

These masses are used to calculate the various specific gravities and absorption using the

following equations:

Note that the quantity (B C) is the mass of water displaced by the SSD aggregate sample. In

the apparent specific gravity calculation the mass of the SSD aggregate sample is replaced by

the mass of the oven-dry aggregate sample (A replaces B), which means that the water

permeable voids within the aggregate are not included and (A C) is the mass of water

displaced by the oven-dry sample.

The ratios given in the equations are then simply the ratio of the weight of a given volume of

aggregate to the weight of an equal volume of water, which is specific gravity.

WARNING

Certainly, the accuracy of all measurements is important. However, of specific concern is the

mass of the SSD sample. The determination of SSD conditions can be difficult. If the sample

is actually still wet on the surface then the mass of the SSD sample will be higher than it

ought to be, which will cause a lower calculated bulk specific gravity. Conversely, if the

sample is beyond SSD and some of the pore water has evaporated (which is more likely), the

mass of the SSD sample will be lower than it ought to be, which will cause a higher

calculated bulk specific gravity. Either type of error will have a cascading effect on

volumetric parameters in other tests that require specific gravity as an input and Superpave

mix design.

A quick check of the results should show that bulk specific gravity is the lowest specific

gravity, bulk SSD specific gravity is in the middle and apparent specific gravity is the

highest.

1. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

(AASHTO). (2000c). AASHTO Provisional Standards, April 2000 Edition.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Washington, D.C.

Overview

The fine aggregate specific gravity test (Figure 1) is used to calculate the specific gravity of a

fine aggregate sample by determining the ratio of the weight of a given volume of aggregate

to the weight of an equal volume of water. It is similar in nature to the coarse aggregate

specific gravity test.

The fine aggregate specific gravity test measures fine aggregate weight under three different

sample conditions:

Saturated surface dry (water fills the aggregate pores).

Using these three weights and their relationships, a samples apparent specific gravity, bulk

specific gravity and bulk SSD specific gravity as well as absorption can be calculated.

Aggregate specific gravity is needed to determine weight-to-volume relationships and to

calculate various volume-related quantities such as voids in mineral aggregate (VMA), and

voids filled by asphalt (VFA). Absorption can be used as an indicator of aggregate durability

as well as the volume of asphalt binder it is likely to absorb.

The standard fine aggregate specific gravity and absorption test is:

Aggregate

Background

Specific gravity is a measure of a materials density (mass per unit volume) as compared to

the density of water at 73.4F (23C). Therefore, by definition, water at a temperature of

73.4F (23C) has a specific gravity of 1.

Absorption, which is also determined by the same test procefure, is a measure of the amount

of water that an aggregate can absorb into its pore structure. Pores that absorb water are also

referred to as water permeable voids.

Specific Gravity Use

design, deleterious particle indentification and separation, and material property change

identification.

Superpave Mix Design

Superpave mix design is a volumetric process; it relies on mixing constituent materials on the

basis of their volume. However, aggregate and asphalt binder volumes are diffucult to

measure directly, therefore a materials weight is typically measured and then converted to a

volume based on its specific gravity. Correct and accurate material specific gravity

determinations are vital to proper mix design. An incorrect specific gravity value will result

in incorrectly calculated volumes and ultimately result in an incorrect mix design.

Material Contamination Indicator and Separator

Specific gravity can also indicate possible material contamination. For instance, deleterious

particles (Figure 2) are often lighter than aggregate particles and therefore, a large amount of

deleterious material in an aggregate sample may result in an abnormally low specific gravity.

Figure 2: Deleterious Particles.

Differences in specific gravity can also be used to separate deleterious, or bad,

particles from aggregate particles using a heavy media liquid. Water absorption

can also be an indicator of asphalt absorption.

Material Change Indicator

Finally, specific gravity differences can be used to indicate a possible material change. A

change in aggregate mineral or physical properties can result in a change in specific gravity.

For instance, if a quarry operation constantly monitors the specific gravity of its output

aggregate, a change in specific gravity beyond that normally expected could indicate the

quarrying has moved into a new rock formation with significantly different mineral or

physical properties.

Aggregate absorption is the increase in mass due to water in the pores of the material.

Aggregate absorption is a useful quality because:

1. High values can indicate non-durable aggregate.

2. Absorption can indicate the amount of asphalt binder the aggregate will

absorb.

It is generally desirable to avoid highly absorptive aggregate in HMA. This is because asphalt

binder that is absorbed by the aggregate is not available to coat the aggregate particle surface

and is therefore not available for bonding. Therefore, highly absorptive aggregates (often

specified as over 5 percent absorption) require more asphalt binder to develop the same film

thickness as less absorptive aggregates making the resulting HMA more expensive.

Aggregate Specific Gravity Types

Several different types of specific gravity are commonly used depending upon how the

volume of water permeable voids (or pores) within the aggregate are addressed (Figure 3):

Figure 3: Aggregate specific gravities.

the volume of the aggregate particle; it does not include the volume of

any water permeable voids. The mass measurement only includes the

aggregate particle. Apparent specific gravity is intended to only measure

the specific gravity of the solid volume, therefore it will be the highest of

the aggregate specific gravities. It is formally defined as the ratio of the

mass of a unit volume of the impermeable portion of aggregate (does not

include the permeable pores in aggregate) to the mass of an equal volume

of gas-free distilled water at the stated temperature.

Bulk Specific Gravity (Bulk Dry Specific Gravity), Gsb. The volume

measurement includes the overall volume of the aggregate particle as well

as the volume of the water permeable voids. The mass measurement only

includes the aggregate particle. Since it includes the water permeable void

volume, bulk specific gravity will be less than apparent specific gravity. It

is formally defined as the ratio of the mass of a unit volume of aggregate,

including the water permeable voids, at a stated temperature to the mass

of an equal volume of gas-free distilled water at the stated temperature.

measurement includes the overall volume of the aggregate particle as well

as the volume of the water permeable voids. The mass measurement

includes the aggregate particle as well as the water within the water

permeable voids. It is formally defined as the ratio of the mass of a unit

volume of aggregate, including the weight of water within the voids filled

to the extent achieved by submerging in water for approximately 15

hours, to the mass of an equal volume of gas-free distilled water at the

stated temperature.

volume of the aggregate particle plus the void volume that becomes filled

with water during the test soak period minus the volume of the voids that

absorb asphalt. Effective specific gravity lies between apparent and bulk

specific gravity. It is formally defined as the ratio of the mass in air of a

unit volume of a permeable material (excluding voids permeable to

asphalt) at a stated temperature to the mass in air (of equal density) of an

equal volume of gas-free distilled water at a stated temperature. Effective

specific gravity is determined by a different procedure and is not covered

in this section.

Relationship with Other Specific Gravities

Figure 4: Abbreviations.

The difference between Gsa and Gsb is the volume of aggregate used in the

calculations. The difference between these volumes is the volume of

absorbed water in the aggregates permeable voids. Both use the

aggregates oven dry weight.

The difference between Gsb and bulk (SSD) specific gravity is the weight of

aggregate used in the calculations. The difference between these weights

is the weight of absorbed water in the aggregates permeable voids. Both

use the same aggregate volume.

The difference between Gsa, Gse and Gsb is the volume of aggregate used in

the calculations. All three use the aggregates oven dry weight.

1. Gsa Gse Gsb

2. Bulk (SSD) specific gravity Gsb

3. Aggregate specific gravities (Gsb, Gsa,Gse and bulk SSD specific

gravity ) are all Gmm(because Gmm includes the asphalt binder,

which has a lower specific gravity than the aggregate)

Test Description

The following description is a brief summary of the test. It is not a complete procedure and

should not be used to perform the test. The complete fine aggregate specific gravity

procedure can be found in:

Aggregate

Summary

The mass of a fine aggregate sample is determine in SSD, oven-dry and submerged states.

These values are then used to calculate bulk specific gravity, bulk SSD specific gravity,

apparent specific gravity and absorption. Figure 5 shows the major equipment used to

perform the FASG test.

Approximate Test Time

Basic Procedure

1. Obtain approximately 1000 g of aggregate material passing the No. 4

(4.75 mm) sieve.

2. Prepare the material.

o

that all the water has left the sample. Drying should occur in an

oven regulated at 230F (110C).

15 to 19 hours.

3. Dry the sample to a saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. Spread sample

on a flat, non-absorbent surface (Figure 6) and stir it occasionally to assist

in homogeneous drying. A current of warm air may be used to assist

drying procedure (Figure 7). The air current (typically from a blow dryer)

should not blow the sample off the non-absorbent surface. Throughout this

drying process, the aggregate should be repeatedly tested for a SSD

condition using the Cone Test as follows:

o

Lightly tamp the aggregate into the mold with 25 light drops of a

small metal tamper (Figure 8).

Remove loose aggregate from the outside of the mold and carefully

lift the mold vertically.

If surface moisture is still present, the fine aggregate will retain its

molded shape (Figure 9). When the aggregate achieves an SSD

condition, it will slump slightly.

Upon the first test where slumping occurs, record the weight of the

aggregate as SSD mass.

dryer.

presence.

Figure 8: Tamping the aggregate into the

mold.

WARNING

If the aggregate slumps on the first Cone Test, it is assumed that the aggregate has already

dried beyond the SSD condition (Figure 10). The aggregate can be restored by thoroughly

mixing in a small amount of water and allowing the aggregate to stand in a covered container

for 30 minutes. The drying process can then be resumed (AASHTO, 2000c[1]).

4. Calibrate a specific gravity flask pycnometer by filling with water at 73.4F

(23C) to the calibration line and determine the mass.

5. Place 500 10 grams of the SSD aggregate into the pycnometer and fill

with water at 73.4F (23C)) to 90% of pycnometer capacity (Figure 11).

Agitate the pycnometer to eliminate air bubbles and then determine total

mass of the pycnometer.

NOTE

This agitation procedure should be repeated several times in order to ensure that any

entrapped air is eliminated. This process usually takes 15 to 20 minutes total. Agitation does

not have to be constant (AASHTO, 2000a[2]).

6. Add additional water to return the pycnometer to its calibrated capacity.

NOTE

If bubbles prevent the proper filling of the pycnometer, adding a few drops of isopropyl

alcohol is recommended to disperse the foam (AASHTO, 2000a[2]).

7. Determine the total weight of pycnometer, specimen, and water.

8. Remove the aggregate from the pycnometer and dry it until it maintains a

constant mass. This indicates that all the water has left the sample. Drying

should occur in an oven regulated at 230F (110C).

9. Cool the aggregate in air at room temperature for 1.0 0.5 hours then

determine the mass.

Results

Parameters Measured

1. Fine aggregate bulk specific gravity.

2. Fine aggregate bulk SSD specific gravity.

3. Fine aggregate apparent specific gravity.

4. Fine aggregate absorption.

Specifications

There are no minimum or maximum specific gravity or absorption values in Superpave mix

design. Rather, specific gravity is an aggregate quality needed to make required volume

calculations. Some state agencies specify minimum aggregate specific gravities or maximum

percent water absorption to help control aggregate quality.

Typical Values

Specific gravities can vary widely depending upon aggregate type. Some lightweight shales

(not used in HMA production) can have specific gravities near 1.050, while other aggregate

can have specific gravities above 3.000. Typically, aggregate used in HMA production will

have a bulk specific gravity between about 2.400 and 3.000 with 2.700 being fairly typical of

limestone. Bulk SSD specific gravities can be on the order of 0.050 to 0.100 higher than bulk

oven dry specific gravities, while apparent specific gravities can be 0.050 to 0.100 higher

still.

For a particular aggregate type or source, fine aggregate specific gravities can be slightly

higher than coarse aggregate specific gravities because as the aggregate particles get smaller,

the fraction of pores exposed to the aggregate surface (and thus excluded from the specific

gravity calculation because they are water-permeable) increases.

Aggregate absorption can also vary widely depending upon aggregate type. Some lightweight

shales (not used in HMA production) can have absorptions approaching 30 percent, while

other aggregate types can have near zero absorption. Typically, aggregate used in HMA

production will have an absorption between just above zero and 5 percent. Absorptions above

about 5 percent tend to make HMA mixtures uneconomical because extra asphalt binder is

required to account for the high aggregate absorption.

If absorption is incorrectly accounted for, the resulting HMA could be overly dry and have

low durability (absorption calculated lower than it actually is) or over-asphalted and

susceptible to distortion and rutting (absorption calculated higher than it actually is).

Calculations (see Interactive Equation)

Four different masses are recorded during the test. Their common symbols are:

A = mass of oven-dry sample in air (g)

B = mass of pycnometer filled with water (g)

C = mass of pycnometer filled with SSD sample & water (g)

S = mass of SSD sample (g)

These masses are used to calculate the various specific gravities and absorption using the

following equations:

Note that the quantity (B + S C) is the mass of water displaced by the SSD aggregate

sample. In the apparent specific gravity calculation the mass of the SSD aggregate sample is

replaced by the mass of the oven-dry aggregate sample (A replaces S), which means that the

water permeable voids within the aggregate are not included and (B + A C) is the mass of

water displaced by the oven-dry sample.

The ratios given in the equations are then simply the ratio of the weight of a given volume of

aggregate to the weight of an equal volume of water, which is specific gravity.

WARNING

Certainly, the accuracy of all measurements is important. However, of specific concern is the

mass of the SSD sample. The determination of SSD conditions can be difficult. If the sample

is actually still wet on the surface then the mass of the SSD sample will be higher than it

ought to be, which will cause a lower calculated bulk specific gravity. Conversely, if the

sample is beyond SSD and some of the pore water has evaporated (which is more likely), the

mass of the SSD sample will be lower than it ought to be, which will cause a higher

calculated bulk specific gravity. Either type of error will have a cascading effect on

volumetric parameters in other tests that require specific gravity as an input and Superpave

mix design.

A quick check of the results should show that bulk specific gravity is the lowest specific

gravity, bulk SSD specific gravity is in the middle and apparent specific gravity is the

highest.

1. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

(AASHTO). (2000c). AASHTO Provisional Standards, April 2000 Edition.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Washington, D.C.

2. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

(AASHTO). (2000a). Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials

Specifications. American Association of State Highway and Transportation

Officials. Washington, D.C.

3.

Overview

The bulk specific gravity test is used to determine the specific gravity of a compacted HMA

sample by determining the ratio of its weight to the weight of an equal volume of water.

The bulk specific gravity test measures a HMA samples weight under three different

conditions (Figure 1):

Saturated surface dry (SSD, water fills the HMA air voids).

Using these three weights and their relationships, a samples apparent specific gravity, bulk

specific gravity and bulk SSD specific gravity as well as absorption can be calculated.

HMA bulk specific gravity is needed to determine weight-volume relationships and to

calculate various volume-related quantities such as air voids and voids in mineral aggregate

(VMA).

The standard bulk specific gravity test is:

Using Saturated Surface-Dry Specimens

ASTM D 2726: Bulk Specific Gravity and Density of Non-Absorptive

Compacted Bituminous Mixtures

Background

Specific gravity is a measure of a materials density (mass per unit volume) as compared to

the density of water at 73.4F (23C). Therefore, by definition, water at 73.4F (23C) has a

specific gravity of 1.

Bulk Specific Gravity Use

Superpave mix design is a volumetric process; key properties are expressed in terms of

volume. However, direct volume measurements are difficult, therefore weight measurements

are usually made and then converted to a volume based on material specific gravities. Bulk

specific gravity is involved in most key mix design calculations including air voids, VMA

and, indirectly, VFA. Correct and accurate bulk specific gravity determinations are vital to

proper mix design. An incorrect bulk specific gravity value will result in incorrectly

calculated air voids, VMA, VFA and ultimately result in an incorrect mix design.

Methods of Determining Bulk Specific Gravity

Although the Test Description section describes the standard AASHTO T 166 saturated

surface dry (SSD) water displacement method, there are a number of other methods available.

Each one uses a slightly different way to determine specimen volume and may result in

different bulk specific gravity values.

Water Displacement Methods

These methods, based on Archimedes Principle, calculate specimen volume by weighing the

specimen (1) in a water bath and (2) out of the water bath. The difference in weights can then

be used to calculate the weight of water displaced, which can be converted to a volume using

the specific gravity of water.

The most common method (and the one described in the Test Description section), calculates

the specimen volume by subtracting the mass of the specimen in water (Figure 2) from the

mass of a SSD specimen. SSD is defined as the specimen condition when the internal air

voids are filled with water and the surface (including air voids connected to the surface) is

dry. This SSD condition allows for internal air voids to be counted as part of the specimen

volume and is achieved by soaking the specimen in a water bath for 4 minutes then removing

it and quickly blotting it dry with a damp towel.

WARNING

One critical problem with this method is that if a specimens air voids are high, and thus

potentially interconnected (for dense-graded HMA this occurs at about 8 to 10 percent air

voids), water quickly drains out of them as the specimen is removed from its water bath,

which results in an erroneously low HMA sample volume measurement and thus an

erroneously high bulk specific gravity.

Paraffin

This method determines volume similarly to the water displacement method but uses a

melted paraffin wax instead of water to fill a specimens internal air voids (Figure 3).

Therefore, after the wax sets there is no possibility of it draining out and, theoretically, a

more accurate volume can be calculated. In practice, the paraffin is difficult to correctly apply

and test results are somewhat inconsistent.

Parafilm

In this method the specimen is wrapped in a thin paraffin film (Figure 4) and then weighed in

and out of water. Since the specimen is completely wrapped when it is submerged, no water

can get into it and a more accurate volume measurement is theoretically possible. However,

in practice the paraffin film application is quite difficult and test results are inconsistent.

CoreLok

This method calculates specimen volume like the parafilm method but uses a vacuum

chamber (Figure 5) to shrink-wrap the specimen in a high-quality plastic bag (Figure 6) rather

than cover it in a paraffin film (Video 1). This method has shown promise in both accuracy

and precision.

plastic bag.

sample inside.

Video 1: CoreLok device.

Dimensional

This method, the simplest, calculates the volume based on height and diameter/width

measurements. Although it avoids problems associated with the SSD condition, it is often

inaccurate because it assumes a perfectly smooth surface, thereby ignoring surface

irregularities (i.e., the rough surface texture of a typical specimen).

Gamma Ray

The gamma ray method is based on the scattering and absorption properties of gamma rays

with matter. When a gamma ray source of primary energy in the Compton range is placed

near a material, and an energy selective gamma ray detector is used for gamma ray counting,

the scattered and unscattered gamma rays with energies in the Compton range can be counted

exclusively. With proper calibration, the gamma ray count is directly converted to the density

or bulk specific gravity of the material (Troxler, 2001[1]). Figure 7 shows the Troxler device.

Test Description

The following description is a brief summary of the test. It is not a complete procedure and

should not be used to perform the test. The complete procedure can be found in:

Saturated Surface-Dry Specimens

ASTM D 2726: Bulk Specific Gravity and Density of Non-Absorptive

Compacted Bituminous Mixtures

Other standard tests available to determine bulk specific gravity that are not described in this

section are:

Using Paraffin-Coated Specimens

AASHTO TP 69: Bulk Specific Gravity and Density of Compacted Asphalt

Mixtures Using Automatic Vacuum Sealing Method

Summary

HMA core) is weighed dry, saturated surface dry (SSD) and submerged (Figure 1). These

weights are used to calculate specific gravity and the percentage of water absorbed by the

sample.

Approximate Test Time

Each test takes approximately 7 minutes to conduct excluding preparation time. When several

samples are tested the test time per sample can be reduced. Considerable preparation time

may be necessary if contamination must be removed from the bottom of the sample.

Basic Procedure

1. Dry specimen to a constant mass and cool to room temperature.

NOTE

Laboratory samples are typically dry at the beginning of the test; however, field samples will

typically be damp.

2. Record the dry mass (Figure 8).

3. Submerge sample in 77F (25C) water for 4 minutes and record the

submerged mass . This can be done with a water-filled container on top of

a scale or with a basket suspended in water under a scale (Figure 2).

4. Quickly blot the sample with a damp towel and record the surface dry

mass.

WARNING

Any water that escapes from the sample during weighing is considered part of the saturated

specimen. If this water is not weighed, significant error can result.

Results

Parameters Measured

Bulk specific gravity (Gmb) and the percentage of water absorbed by volume.

Specifications

There is no specification for bulk specific gravity, but it is used to calculate other specified

parameters such as air voids, VMA and VFA.

Typical Values

Typical values for bulk specific gravity range from 2.200 to 2.500 depending upon the bulk

specific gravity of the aggregate, the asphalt binder content, and the amount of compaction.

Absorption should typically be below 2 percent. If more than 2 percent water by volume is

absorbed by the sample then this method is not appropriate. In this case, use AASHTO T 275,

Bulk Specific Gravity of Compacted Bituminous Mixtures Using Paraffin-Coated Specimens

or AASHTO TP 69, Bulk Specific Gravity and Density of Compacted Asphalt Mixtures

Using Automatic Vacuum Sealing Method.

Calculations (Interactive Equation)

Three different masses are recorded during the test. Their common symbols are:

A = mass of sample in air (g)

B = mass of SSD sample in air (g)

C = mass of sample in water (g)

These masses are used to calculate bulk specific gravity and water absorption

using the following equations:

WARNING

Certainly, the accuracy of all measurements is important. However, of specific concern is the

mass of the SSD sample. As mentioned in the background section, if a specimens air voids

are high, and thus potentially interconnected (for dense-graded HMA this occurs at about 8 to

10 percent air voids), water quickly drains out of them as the specimen is removed from its

water bath, which results in an erroneously low SSD weight, which leads to an erroneously

low HMA sample volume measurement and thus an erroneously high bulk specific gravity.

Overview

The theoretical maximum specific gravity (Gmm) of a HMA mixture is the specific gravity

excluding air voids. Thus, theoretically, if all the air voids were eliminated from an HMA

sample, the combined specific gravity of the remaining aggregate and asphalt binder would

be the theoretical maximum specific gravity. Theoretical maximum specific gravity can be

multiplied by the density of water (62.4 lb/ft3 or 1000 g/L) to obtain a theoretical maximum

density (TMD) or Rice density (named after James Rice, who developed the test

procedure).

Theoretical maximum specific gravity is a critical HMA characteristic because it is used to

calculate percent air voids in compacted HMA. This calculation is used both in Superpave

mix design and determination of in-place air voids in the field.

Theoretical maximum specific gravity is determined by taking a sample of loose HMA (i.e.,

not compacted), weighing it and then determining its volume by calculating the volume of

water it displaces (Figure 1). Theoretical maximum specific gravity is then the sample weight

divided by its volume.

The standard theoretical maximum specific gravity test is:

and Density of Bituminous Paving Mixtures

Background

The theoretical maximum specific gravity test is integral to Superpave mix design as well as

field quality assurance. Theoretical maximum specific gravity is used along with bulk

specific gravity values from field cores and laboratory compacted specimens to calculate air

voids and the in-place air voids of a HMA pavement. It is also used to calculate the amount of

asphalt absorbed in a HMA mixture (Vba) , which is then used in determining the effective

asphalt content (Pbe).

Basic Premise

The basic premise of the maximum specific gravity is to divide the mass of the sample by the

volume of the sample excluding the air voids. The mass is determined by measuring the dry

mass of the sample either at the beginning of the test or after it has been dried at the end of

the test. The volume is calculated by weighing the mass of the water displaced by the sample

and dividing by the unit weight of water.

In-place Density Measurement

As previously discussed, theoretical maximum specific gravity is needed to calculate air void

content; therefore, it is involved in in-place air void determination during HMA pavement

construction. In-place air void measurements are used as a measure of compaction (Figure 2).

This is because compaction reduces the volume of air in HMA. Therefore, the characteristic

of concern in compaction is the volume of air within the compacted HMA. This volume is

typically quantified as a percentage of air voids by volume and expressed as percent air

voids. Percent air voids is calculated by comparing a test specimens bulk specific gravity

(Gmb) with its theoretical maximum specific gravity (Gmm) and assuming the difference is

due to air. Once Gmm is known, portable non-destructive devices can be used to measure

HMA density in-place. The terms percent air voids and density are often used

interchangeably. Although this is not wrong, since density is used to calculate percent air

voids, the fundamental parameter of concern is always percent air voids.

Percent air voids is typically calculated using Gmm and Gmb in the following equation:

Each time density is to be determined a measure of bulk specific gravity is made by either

coring the pavement and determining bulk specific gravity on the sample or using a nondestructive testing method. This bulk specific gravity is then compared to the most current

theoretical maximum specific gravity to determine air voids. During HMA production and

pavement construction, theoretical maximum specific gravity should be determined at regular

intervals because it may change over time as the asphalt binder content and properties as well

as aggregate properties vary over time.

WARNING

If percent air voids is used as a primary quality assurance characteristic, there can be a

tendency to control this characteristic at the expense of others. For instance, if adequate

compaction is not being achieved, increasing asphalt binder content will fill more voids with

asphalt binder and thus lower the air void content for the same amount of compaction.

However, increased asphalt binder content can also potentially make a HMA mixture more

likely to rut or shove.

Relationship with Other Specific Gravities

1. The difference between Gmm and Gmb is volume. The weights are

identical. The difference in volume is the volume of air in the compacted

HMA mixture.

2. The following relationships are always true:

o

Gmm Gmb

Aggregate specific gravities (Gsb, Gsa, Gse and bulk SSD specific

gravity ) are all Gmm

Test Description

The following description is a brief summary of the test. It is not a complete procedure and

should not be used to perform the test. The complete test procedure can be found in:

and Density of Bituminous Paving Mixtures

Summary

A loose sample of either laboratory or plant produced HMA is weighed while dry (to

determine its dry mass) and then a short procedure is used to determine the samples volume.

The theoretical maximum specific gravity is then the samples mass divided by its volume.

Approximate Test Time

45 minutes per test after samples are prepared (2 samples per test typically).

Basic Procedure

plant. The mixture should be loose and broken up so that the fine aggregate is separated into

particles smaller than 0.25 inches (6.25 mm) taking care not to fracture aggregate (Figure 4).

1. Place a loose sample at room temperature into a vacuum container and

record the dry mass. If Weighing in Water is chosen in step 5, glass, plastic

or metal bowls (Figure 5) as well as thick-walled flasks or vacuum

desiccators are used. If Weighing in Air is chosen in step 5, flasks (Figure

6) or pycnometers are used.

2. Completely cover the sample by adding water at approximately 77F

(25C) to the container.

3. Remove entrapped air in the sample by applying a vacuum of 27.75 mm

Hg (3.7 kPa) to the pycnometer or flask for 15 minutes. The container

should be agitated continuously by mechanical means (Video 1) or shaken

vigorously by hand every two minutes.

4. Slowly release the vacuum.

5. Weigh the sample in water or air:

o

sample and water) in a water bath at 77F (25C) for 10 minutes

and record the mass.

(25C). Determine the mass of the completely filled container within

10 minutes of releasing the vacuum.

WARNING

In highly absorptive aggregate, water may seep in between the absorbed asphalt and the

aggregate particle resulting in an erroneous dry weight measurement.To determine whether

significant seepage has occurred, decant the sample through a towel (so that the fines are

retained) held over the top of the container. Take several of the larger pieces of aggregate and

break them. Examine the broken faces for wetness. Wetness indicates seepage. If seepage is

detected, a supplemental procedure needs to be run on the sample at the end of the test.

Generally, if the aggregate has a water absorption of less than 1.5 percent the supplemental

procedure is not needed.

This procedure is accomplished by spreading the wet sample in front of a fan and

weighing at 15 minute intervals. When the mass loss between weighings is less

than 0.05 percent, the sample is said to be dry. This dry mass should be used for

calculations. This is often called a dry-back procedure.

metal bowl (left).

flask (right).

Results

Parameters Measure

Specifications

There is no specification for theoretical maximum specific gravity, but it is used to calculate

other specified parameters such as air voids (Va) in laboratory compacted mixtures and inplace density in the field.

Typical Values

Typical values for theoretical maximum specific gravity range from approximately 2.400 to

2.700 depending on the aggregate specific gravity and asphalt binder content. Unusually light

or heavy aggregates may result in a value outside this typical range.

Calculations (Interactive Equation)

Weighing in Water Method

Where:

C =mass of water displaced by the sample (g)

Where:

D = mass of flask filled with water (g)

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