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o Hot-mix asphalt (HMA) is produced in a hot asphalt mixing plant (or hot-mix plant) by mixing a properly controlled amount of aggregate with a properly controlled amount of asphalt at an elevated temperature. After compacting and cooling to air temperature, HMA is a very strong paving material with the ability to sustain heavy traffic loads while remaining flexible enough to withstand ambient environmental conditions and stresses. Probably over 98 percent of the hard-surfaced roads in the Nigeria are paved using HMA.

RATIONAL DESIGN PROCEDURE Steps in the procedure for a rational design are: 1. Select type of asphaltic concrete mix to design for (base course /wearing course) 2. Select aggregates to be employed in the mix. 3. Determine the specific gravity of the aggregate combination and of the asphalt cement 4. Determine the proportion of each aggregate required to produce the design grading. 5. Make up trial specimens with varying asphalt contents. 6. Determine the specific gravity of each compacted specimen. 7. Carry out stability tests on the specimens. 8. Calculate the percentage of voids in each specimen. Calculate the VMA and the percent voids filled with asphalt. 9. Select the optimum asphalt content from the data obtained.


Grading Analysis of Materials The grading of aggregates denotes the distribution of sizes from coarse to fillers. The grading is determined by running the material through a series of sieves with progressively smaller openings and weighing the material retained on each sieve.

The total percentage passing method is very convenient for the graphical representation of a grading and is most widely used in graded aggregate specifications (see Figure 1).

The particle-size distribution of combined coarse and fine aggregates and fillers shall lie within the following limits shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1: GRADING ENVELOPES FOR BINDER AND WEARING COURSE BS SIEVE SIZE % BY WEIGHT PASSING BASE-COURSE WEARING COURSE (1 in. Normal Size (1/2 in. Normal Size ASTM BS Aggregate) Aggregate) 1/ 1 4 in. 31.8mm 100 1 in. 25.0 mm 90 100 3/ 19.0 mm 70 90 100 4 in. 1/ in. 12.5 mm 55 80 85 100 2 3/ 9.5 mm 47 70 75 92 8 in. 1/ in. 6.4 mm 40 60 65 82 4 No. 7 2.36 mm 27 45 50 65 No. 14 1.25 mm 20 34 36 51 No. 25 600m 14 27 26 40 No. 52 300m 8 20 18 30 No. 100 150m 5 15 13 24 No. 200 75m 27 7 14 Bitumen Content % By Weight Of 4.5 6.5 5 8.0 Aggregate Source: The Ministry of works (General specification for roads and bridges (1994) 2. Select Aggregates to Employ In the Mix

The aggregates commonly used in asphalt pavements are crushed limestone, basalt, gravel, slag, and sand. In the manufacture of crushed limestone, solid ledges are reduced in the quarry by blasting and then further reduced through a series of crushers. The limestone is then screened to produce any desired size or sizes of aggregates. Basalt is an igneous rock, green to black in colour, and is processed in the same manner as crushed limestone. Blast-furnace slag is a by-product in the manufacture of iron. Sand is nearly always present in gravel deposits and is separated as part of the manufacturing process

Figure 1 Typical Grading Envelope


Determine Specific Gravities The specific gravity of asphalt cement is rarely determined in an asphalt-pavingmix laboratory. It is usually provided by the producer. The specific gravity of the aggregate combination is nearly always determined in the paving laboratory. Three types of specific gravity of the aggregate are employed: (1) Bulk specific gravity, (2) Apparent specific gravity, and (3) Effective specific gravity. The bulk specific gravity involves the overall volume of the aggregate particle including its capillaries. The apparent specific gravity involves only the impermeable portion of aggregate exclusive of the volume of capillaries which become filled with water upon 24-hr soaking. The effective specific gravity purportedly involves the volume of the impermeable aggregates and the volume of capillaries unfilled with asphalt as it exists in the pavement.

Specific Gravity Measurements An aggregate has three components in its volume, viz: (i) (ii) Volume of solids = Vs Volume of capillary voids which will be filled with water after 24 hours soaking = Vc, and (iii) Volume of impermeable voids, Vi

Let Ws be the weight of solids. (i) = Apparent specific gravity

Weight of aggregates Vol. of aggregates excluding permeable voids Ws (VS Vi )

(ii) =

Bulk specific gravity,

Weight of aggregates Vol. of aggregates including permeable voids Ws (VS Vi VC )

= (iii)

When a number of aggregate fractions are blended, the average specific gravity,

or the specific gravity of the blended aggregate mix, is calculated from:

Gavg =

100 w1 w2 w3 G1 G 2 G3

where Gavg = G2, G3Gn

Average specific gravity of combined aggregate

w1, w2, w3, etc = respective percents by weight of aggregate 1, aggregate 2, etc. = respective specific gravities of aggregate 1, aggregate 2, etc.

Example 1: Coarse aggregate, fine aggregate and filler having respective specific gravities of 2.58, 2.72 and 2.70 are mixed in the proportion 55.3, 36.8 and 7.9 percent respectively. What is the average specific gravity of the mix?

Solution: Gavg =

100 55.3 36.8 7.8 2.58 2.72 2.70

= 2.64.


Proportioning of Aggregate to Produce Grading

The aggregate proportions selected to produce a given grading may be derived mathematically or by actually blending them in the laboratory on a trial-and-error basis until a satisfactory grading is reached.


Make up trial specimens with varying asphalt content A number of asphalt mixture specimens are prepared in the laboratory and tested for stability and flow (see Step 7 for definition of Marshall Stability and flow). The exact method of preparing and compacting the specimen is a function of the test method employed. The four most commonly used methods are: (1) The Marshall Method, (2) The Hveem method, (3) The Hubbard-Field method, and (4) Superpave method. The Marshall method is currently in use in Nigeria The test specimens are prepared with varying asphaltic cement content with % increments such that at least two values are above and two are below the optimum. Usually, six (6) values of asphalt cement content are selected and for each, three specimens are needed. To prepare the specimens, samples weighing 1.2kg each are used. The specimens are prepared by heating the aggregates and binder (within the range of 135oC (275oF)) and mixing them.

The asphalt mixture is compacted in a 101.6-mm (4-inch) diameter cylindrical mould by a Marshall compaction hammer, which is 6.5 kg (10 pounds) in weight and dropped from a height of 457 mm (18 inches). The specimens are compacted by giving 50 blows on both top and bottom by the hammer.

The compacted specimen is 101.6 mm (4 inches) in diameter and approximately 63.5 mm (2.5 inches) in height The procedure is adequate for highway pavements designed for a tyre pressure of 0.7 MN/m2. For airfield pavements and heavily trafficked highway pavements designed for a tyre pressure of 1.4MN/m2, 75 blows are given on each face.


Determine the specific gravity of each compacted specimen

The theoretical (because in practical scenario, a mixture cannot be totally void-less) maximum specific gravity Gmm for void-less bituminous paving mixtures is determined by: Gmm =
100 w w1 w2 w3 .......... n G1 G2 G3 Gn 1

where w1 = G1 =

the percentage by weight of bitumen i.e. binder the specific gravity of the bitumen (AASHTO Designation T228)

w 2, w 3 w n = the percentages by weight of different aggregate fractions G2, G3Gn = the specific gravities of the respective aggregate fractions

The procedure for determining d, the bulk specific gravity of a compacted specimen, is given in AASHTO T166 as Gmb where A B C = = =
A B C weight of the dry specimen in air, in grams

weight of saturated surface dry specimen in air, in grams weight of saturated specimen in water, in grams

If the specimen has an open and porous surface, it must be covered with a paraffin coating before being placed in the water. The formula for determining Gmb, the bulk specific gravity of a compacted asphaltic mixture when the specimen is coated with paraffin, is as follows: Gmb where A D E F = = = = weight of the dry specimen in air, in grams weight of the specimen plus paraffin coating in air, in grams weight of the specimen plus paraffin coating in water, in grams bulk specific gravity of paraffin specimens are allowed to cool =



overnight before testing


Stability Tests on Compacted Specimens using the Marshall Method 1. The principal features of the method are a density-void analysis and stability-flow test of the compacted specimen. 2. The Marshall testing machine is an electrically powered testing device designed to apply loads at a constant rate of strain of 5cm per minute and equipped with a calibrated proving ring to measure the load. 3. The testing method is by loading the specimen in compression to failure in the Marshall testing machine. The machine then measure both stability and flow that develop at failure. 4. The Marshall stability is the maximum load the specimen can withstand before failure when tested in the Marshall Stability test. 5. The Marshall flow is the total vertical deformation of the specimen, in units of 0.01 inch, when it is loaded to the maximum load in the Marshall Stability test.

8. Calculation of Percent of Maximum Density, Percent Voids, and Voids in the Mineral Aggregate Volumetric Properties of Asphalt Mixtures A compacted asphalt mixture consists primarily of aggregate, asphalt and air.

Volumetric properties of asphalt mixtures are properties that are directly related to the proportioning of the volumes of these three components. Although there are only three components in a compacted asphalt mixture, numerous different volumes can be computed when different combinations of the three components are combined.

Note that some asphalt can be absorbed into the aggregate and occupy part of the bulk volume of the aggregate.

The representation of the different volumes in a compacted mixture is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Representation of volumes in a compacted asphalt mixture where: Vma = Volume of voids in mineral aggregate Vmb Vmm Va Vb Vba Vbe Vsb Vse = = = = = = = = Bulk Volume of compacted mix Void-less volume of paving mix Volume of air voids Volume of asphalt Volume of absorbed asphalt Volume of effective asphalt Volume of mineral aggregate (by bulk specific gravity) Volume mineral aggregate (by effective specific gravity)

Percent Air Voids The percent air voids (Pa) of a compacted mixture is the ratio of the volume of air voids to the total volume of the mixture. It can be expressed by the following equation: 8

Pa =

Vm x 100% Vmb


Percent Voids in Mineral Aggregate (VMA) Percent voids in mineral aggregate (VMA) is the ratio of the volume of voids in mineral aggregate to the total volume of the mixture. It can be expressed by the following equation: VMA =

V ma V Vbe x 100% = a x 100% V mb Vmb


Percent Voids Filled with Asphalt (VFA) Voids filled with asphalt (VFA), is the ratio of the volume of effective asphalt to the volume of the voids in mineral aggregate. It can be expressed by the following equation:


Vbe Vbe x 100% = x 100% V ma (Vbe Va )


Practical Computation of Marshall Test Data The maximum specific gravity (Gmm ) of the asphalt mixture (already calculated in step 6) is needed in order to calculate the percent air voids. The maximum specific gravity is the specific gravity when there are no air voids in the mixture.

The percent air voids (Pa) can be computed from the maximum specific gravity (Gmm) and the bulk specific gravity of the mixture (Gmb) as follows: Pa =

G mm G mb x 100% G mm

The percent voids in mineral aggregate (VMA) can be computed as follows: VMA = 100 Gmb x Ps Gavg

Where: Ps = aggregate content percent by total weight of the mixture Gmb = bulk specific gravity of aggregate Gavg = specific gravity of aggregate mix (step 4) 9

The percent voids filled with asphalt (VFA) can be computed as follows: VFA =
VMA Pa x 100% VMA

9. a)

Selection of Optimum Asphalt Content Marshall Mix design criteria The Marshall mix design method as recommended

by the Asphalt Institute uses five mix design criteria. They are: (1) a minimum Marshall stability, (2) a range of acceptable Marshall flow, (3) a range of acceptable air voids, (4) percent voids filled with asphalt (VFA), and (5) a minimum amount of VMA. Table 2 shows the requirements for stability, flow, air voids and VFA, while Table 3 shows the requirements for VMA. A mix design to be adopted must satisfy all these five criteria. TABLE 2 MARSHALL MIX DESIGN CRITERIA FOR ASPHALT CONCRETE MIXES PROPERTY BINDER COURSE WEARING COURSE Optimum Bitumen Content 4.5% - 6.5% 5.0% - 8.0% Stability, not less than 3.5KN 3.5KN Flow 2mm 6mm 2mm 4mm Voids in Mineral Aggregate (VMA) 3.0% - 8.0% 3.0% - 5.0% Voids Filled with Asphalt (VFA) 3.0% - 8.0% 3.0% - 5.0% TABLE 3 REQUIREMENTS FOR ASPHALT CONCRETE MIXES NOMINAL MAX. DESIGN AIR VOIDS (%) PARTICLE SIZE 3.0 4.0 VOIDS (mm) 1.18 21.5 22.5 3.36 19.0 20.0 4.75 16.0 17.0 9.5 14.0 15.0 12.5 13.0 14.0 19.0 12.0 13.0 25.0 11.0 12.0 37.5 10.0 11.0

5.0 23.5 21.0 18.0 16.0 15.0 14.0 13.0 12.0


Determination of design asphalt content To facilitate the selection of optimum asphalt content, the following six plots are made: (1) Average density versus asphalt content (2) Average percent air voids versus asphalt content (3) Average Marshall stability versus asphalt content (4) Average Marshall flow versus asphalt content (5) Average VMA versus asphalt content (6) Average VFA versus asphalt content Practical Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content The optimum asphalt binder content is finally selected based on the combined results of Marshall stability and flow, density analysis and void analysis (see Figure 2). Optimum asphalt binder content can be arrived at in the following procedure (Roberts et al., 1996): 1. Plot the following graphs:

Asphalt binder content vs. density. Density will generally increase with increasing asphalt content, reach a maximum, then decrease. Peak density usually occurs at a higher asphalt binder content than peak stability.

Asphalt binder content vs. Marshall stability. This should follow one of two trends:

Stability increases with increasing asphalt binder content, reaches a peak, then decreases.

Stability decreases with increasing asphalt binder content and does not show a peak. This curve is common for some recycled HMA mixtures.

o o

Asphalt binder content vs. flow. Asphalt binder content vs. air voids. Percent air voids should decrease with increasing asphalt binder content.

Asphalt binder content vs. VMA. Percent VMA should decrease with increasing asphalt binder content, reach a minimum, then increase.

Asphalt binder content vs. VFA. Percent VFA increases with increasing asphalt binder content.


2. Determine the asphalt binder content that corresponds to the specifications median air void content (typically this is 4 percent). This is the optimum asphalt binder content. 3. Determine properties at this optimum asphalt binder content by referring to the plots. Compare each of these values against specification values and if all are within specification, then the preceding optimum asphalt binder content is satisfactory. Otherwise, if any of these properties is outside the specification range the mixture should be redesigned.

8 6

144 143


Flow (0.01 inch)

5.0 6.0 7.0

Density (pcf)

% Air Voids


4 2 5.0 6.0 7.0

142 141

12 11 5.0 6.0 7.0

% Asphalt Binder by Weight

% Asphalt Binder by Weight

% Asphalt Binder by Weight

Marshall Stability (lbs)

3000 2800 2600

80 70

19.2 18.8 18.4


2400 5.0 6.0 7.0

50 5.0 6.0 7.0



18.0 5.0 6.0 7.0

% Asphalt Binder by Weight

% Asphalt Binder by Weight

% Asphalt Binder by Weight

1. Plot asphalt binder content versus measured values. 2. Select the asphalt binder content corresponding to 4% air voids. 3. Determine values of the other properties at this % asphalt binder and ensure they are within specification. 2003 Steve Muench Figure 2: Selection of Optimum Asphalt Binder Content Example

(from Roberts et al., 1996)