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AUSTROADS TEST METHOD AGPT/T274

Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and


Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes
1.

Preface

This asphalt test method was prepared by the Pavement


Structures Working Group and the Asphalt Research
Working Group on behalf of Austroads. Representatives of
Austroads, ARRB Group and the Australian Asphalt
Pavement Association have been involved in the
development and review of this test method.

2.

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Preface ........................................................... 1
Foreword ........................................................ 1
Scope .............................................................1
Safety Disclaimer ............................................ 2
Further Development ...................................... 2
References ..................................................... 2
Equipment ...................................................... 3
7.1
7.2
7.3

Foreword

This test method should be read in conjunction with the


European Standards EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous
mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt Part 24:
resistance to fatigue and EN 12697-26:2012, Bituminous
mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt Part 26:
stiffness, published by the European Committee for
Standardization. This Austroads method provides
instructions on conducting tests in accordance with these
European Standards, while complying with Austroads
specimen preparation methodology and test conditions.

3.

Contents

8.

Specimen Preparation .................................... 4


8.1
8.2
8.3

Specimen Storage Prior to Test ............. 4


Measurement of Specimen Dimensions 4
Measurement of Density and Air Voids .. 5

9. Test Procedures ............................................. 5


10. Stiffness Test .................................................. 5
10.1
10.2
10.3
10.4
10.5

Definitions, Terms and Symbols ............ 5


Testing Principle .................................... 5
Equipment ............................................. 5
Specimen Preparation ........................... 5
Test Conditions ..................................... 6
10.5.1 Test Temperatures.................... 6
10.5.2 Loading Frequencies ................ 6

Scope

The test method specifies procedures for the


characterisation of the stiffness and fatigue behaviour of
bituminous mixtures using a four-point bending test
configuration. The test procedure to characterise the
complex modulus is contained in Section 10 of this
Austroads test method. The procedure to determine the
fatigue performance is described Section 11. Section 12
contains a method to develop a complex modulus master
curve from modulus results obtained using the method in
Section 10. The tests are performed on compacted
bituminous material under a sinusoidal
displacement-controlled loading on prismatic specimens.

Basic Features ...................................... 3


Thermostatic Chamber .......................... 4
Checking of the Testing Equipment ....... 4

10.6 Testing Procedure ................................. 6


10.7 Expression of Results ............................ 6
10.8 Test Report ........................................... 7
11. Fatigue Resistance Test ................................. 7
11.1
11.2
11.3
11.4
11.5
11.6
11.7
11.8

Definitions, Terms and Symbols ............ 7


Testing Principle .................................... 7
Equipment ............................................. 7
Specimen Preparation ........................... 7
Test Conditions ..................................... 8
Testing Procedure ................................. 8
Expression of Results ............................ 8
Test Report ........................................... 8

12. Derivation of the Master Curve ....................... 9

The modulus and fatigue characterisation tests can be run


independently, or can be run consecutively on the same
specimen, with the fatigue test following the modulus test.

12.1 Principle ................................................ 9


12.2 Experimental Data ............................... 10
12.3 Test Report ......................................... 12

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

The procedure is used:


(a) to determine the modulus of the material at different temperatures and frequencies and to develop
flexural modulus master curves
(b) to rank bituminous mixtures on the basis of stiffness and fatigue
(c) as a guide to relative performance in the pavement
(d) to obtain data for estimating the structural behaviour of the road
(e) to judge test data according to specifications for bituminous mixtures.
Because this test method does not impose a particular type of testing device, the precise choice of the test
conditions depends on the possibilities and the working range of the device used. For the choice of specific
test conditions, the requirements of the product standards for bituminous mixtures need to be respected. The
applicability of this Austroads test method is described in the product standards for bituminous mixtures.

4.

Safety Disclaimer

Warning: the use of this Austroads test method may involve hazardous materials, operations and equipment.
The method does not purport to address all of the safety problems associated with its use. It is the
responsibility of the user to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability
of regulatory limitations prior to use.

5.

Further Development

Revision of the accuracy and number of replicates. Derivation of an uncertainty of measurement statement.

6.

References

The following documents are referred to in this method:


Austroads
AGPT/T220

Preparation of asphalt slabs suitable for laboratory characterisation

AGPT04/07

Guide to pavement technology part 4: asphalt

European standards
EN 12697-24:2012 Bituminous mixtures: test methods for hot mix asphalt: part 24: resistance to fatigue
EN 12697-26:2012 Bituminous mixtures: test methods for hot mix asphalt: part 26: stiffness
Standards Australia
AS 1545:1976

Methods for the calibration and grading of extensometers

AS 2193: 2005

Calibration and classification of force-measuring systems

AS 2891.1: 2008

Methods of sampling and testing asphalt: sampling of asphalt (superseded)

AS 2891.2.1:2014

Methods of sampling and testing asphalt: sample preparation: mixing, quartering


and conditioning of asphalt in the laboratory

AS 2891.7.1:2015

Methods of sampling and testing asphalt: determination of maximum density of


asphalt: water displacement method

AS 2891.8:2014

Methods of sampling and testing asphalt: voids and density relationships for
compacted asphalt mixes

AS 2891.9.2:2014

Methods of sampling and testing asphalt: determination of bulk density of


compacted asphalt: presaturation method

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

7.

Equipment

As described in Section D.2 of EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt
Part 24: resistance to fatigue, except as detailed in this Austroads test method.

7.1

Basic Features

The specimen shall be subjected to four-point bending. The test configuration is shown schematically in
Figure 7.1. Free rotation and longitudinal translation shall be provided at the outer clamps, which provide the
support points, as well as at the inner clamps, where a sinusoidal load is applied using a suitable
mechanism. The effective length, L, is the centre to centre distance between the support points. For the
customary Austroads test configuration L = 355.5 mm. The centre to centre distance between each of the
clamps shall be equal to one-third of L.
The frequency, f, of the sinusoidal load shall have a range of 0.1 to at least 10 Hz, and preferably up to
60 Hz for modulus testing, with an accuracy of 0.1 Hz. The load cell shall have a range of at least 4500 N
with a resolution of 2.2 N or better and an accuracy of 20 N. The displacement transducer should have a
measuring range of 1.0 mm with a resolution of 0.25 m or better and an accuracy of 1 m.

The resonance frequency of the load cell, the vertical displacement transducer and the coupled moving mass
should be at least 10 times as high as the test frequency.
Figure 7.1: Basic principles of four-point bending testing

The measurement of the force applied by the two middle clamps shall take place at the midpoint of effective
length L.
The measurement of the deflection shall take place at the top or bottom surface of the beam specimen.
Deflection shall be measured at the midpoint of L and at the midpoint of the width of the beam. To enable
verification of the required pure bending of the specimen, the displacement of the two inner clamps shall also
be measured.

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

7.2

Thermostatic Chamber

The thermostatic chamber shall be capable of maintaining the test temperature within 0.5C (throughout
the duration of the test). The thermostatic chamber shall have sufficient internal space to accommodate the
loading frame, at least two test specimens in addition to the specimen to be tested, a dummy temperature
specimen, adjustment of the loading frame and the displacement measuring devices, and the placing of
specimens into, and removal from, the loading frame.

7.3

Checking of the Testing Equipment

Equipment shall be checked in accordance with Section 8 of EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures


Test methods for hot mix asphalt Part 24: Resistance to fatigue.
The assumption of pure bending in the specimen shall be verified in accordance with Section D.2.2 of
EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt Part 24: Resistance to fatigue.

8.

Specimen Preparation

As described in Section D.3 of EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt
Part 24: resistance to fatigue, except as detailed in this Austroads test method.
Specimens shall be prepared from asphalt slabs, which were mixed either in the plant or in the laboratory,
conditioned, and compacted in the laboratory in accordance with AGPT/T220, or which were obtained from a
pavement. Slabs shall be cut to produce beam specimens of rectangular cross-section, transverse to the
direction of compaction, with dimensions 390 5 mm in length, 50 5 mm in depth and 63.5 5 mm in
width.
The specimens shall have all cut faces and shall not have imperfections likely to adversely affect the
performance of the test or the quality of the data captured during the test. If any such imperfections are
apparent prior to testing, or become apparent during the test or upon examination of the data captured, the
test result shall be rejected.
Care is to be exercised at all times to ensure that the specimens remain flat prior to testing.

8.1

Specimen Storage Prior to Test

Specimens and the slabs from which they are to be prepared shall be stored in an environment where the
temperature does not exceed 30 C. Wherever practicable, tests should be performed within 30 days of the
date of compaction for laboratory-prepared slabs or the date of removing slabs from field pavements. During
this storage period the specimens should be placed on a flat, stiff surface.

8.2

Measurement of Specimen Dimensions

Measure the beam specimen width and depth at five locations along the beam as follows:
(a) at points within 20 mm of each end
(b) within 10 mm of the centre of the beam
(c) within 10 mm of points located 90 mm in either direction from the centre of the beam.
The mean of the five measurements for each dimension shall be reported to the nearest 0.1 mm. Reject the
beam if any one of the five measurements, for either width or depth, differs by more than 1.5 mm from the
respective mean value.

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

8.3

Measurement of Density and Air Voids

Because asphalt properties are heavily dependent on the level of compaction (specifically, per cent air
voids), testing shall be carried out on each replicate specimen to determine per cent air voids.
Air voids shall be determined as follows:
(a) Determine the maximum density of the asphalt mix in accordance with AS 2891.7.1 for each mix type.
Determine the bulk density of each beam specimen in accordance with AS 2891.9.2. Calculate the air
voids in the beams in accordance with AS 2891.8.
(b) Austroads fatigue tests are typically performed on beam specimens with an air void content of 5.0%
0.5%. For some mix types, or design situations, a different air void content may be specified as
appropriate.
(c) The bulk density shall be determined either before or after the fatigue test. However, if the bulk density
is determined before testing, then the specimens shall be dried to constant mass at ambient
temperature prior to placing in the loading frame.
(d) The maximum density of the asphalt from field pavements, if determined using the beam specimens,
shall be determined upon completion of the fatigue test.

9.

Test Procedures

The test procedure to characterise the stiffness of asphalt is contained in Section 10 of this Austroads test
method. The procedure to determine the fatigue performance is described Section 11. Section 12 contains a
method to develop a complex modulus master curve from modulus results obtained using the method in
Section 10.
The modulus and fatigue characterisation tests can be run independently, or can be run consecutively with
the fatigue test following the modulus test.

10.

Stiffness Test

10.1 Definitions, Terms and Symbols


Definitions, Terms and Symbols shall be as specified in Section 3 of EN 12697-26:2012, Bituminous
mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt Part 26: stiffness.

10.2 Testing Principle


As described in Sections 4 and B.1 of EN 12697-26:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test methods for hot mix
asphalt Part 26: stiffness.

10.3 Equipment
As described in Section 7 of this Austroads test method.

10.4 Specimen Preparation


As described in Section 8 of this Austroads test method.
Stiffness characterisation tests shall be conducted on a minimum of four specimens.
Specimens may be, and generally should be, re-used for consecutive tests at different temperatures.

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

Provided that the stiffness test is performed at a strain level 50 micro-strain and to a maximum of 100 load
cycles, per test condition, specimens may be re-used for fatigue testing upon completion of the stiffness test.

10.5 Test Conditions


10.5.1 Test Temperatures
The temperature in the thermostatic chamber, in the vicinity of the specimen, shall be equal to the
specified temperature to 0.5 C. For each test temperature, the specimen shall be placed in the thermostatic
chamber for at least four hours before testing.
The difference between two test conditions should not exceed 10 C. A typical set of temperatures could be
0 C, 10 C, 20 C and 30 C. Test temperatures above 30 C should be used with care especially for
possible problems of non-linearity and also for possible creep of the specimens. When choosing the
temperature sequence for testing, take note that in most thermostatic chambers heating specimens to a
desired test temperature will be achieved faster than cooling them.
10.5.2 Loading Frequencies
The range of frequencies is equipment dependent, with hydraulic equipment typically capable of higher
frequencies than pneumatic equipment.
Most equipment is able to cover a range between 0.1 Hz and 20 Hz. However, it is preferable to make it as
wide as possible in order to allow a logarithmic presentation of the isotherms. A typical set of frequencies
could be 0.1 Hz, 0.2 Hz, 0.5 Hz, 1 Hz, 2 Hz, 5 Hz, 10 Hz, 20 Hz, 30 Hz and again at 1 Hz. This last
measurement is to check that the specimen has not been damaged during the loading at the various
frequencies. If the difference between stiffness of the specimen at the original and last measurements at
identical frequency and at the same temperature is greater than 3%, it can be concluded that the specimen
is damaged and, therefore, cannot be used for further testing (e.g. at different temperatures). Be aware that
resonance phenomena may occur especially at high frequencies.
Be aware that heat may accumulate in the specimen. This problem is especially dominant at prolonged
measurements and/or higher frequencies.
The waveform should be sinusoidal and harmonic. Any distortion is the sign of an abnormal set-up or of
a resonance phenomenon that can disturb the measurement.

10.6 Testing Procedure


The test procedure shall be as described in Section B.4 of EN 12697-26:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test
methods for hot mix asphalt Part 26: stiffness (four point bending test in sinusoidal loading mode).

10.7 Expression of Results


Results shall be expressed as described in Section 9 of EN 12697-26:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test
methods for hot mix asphalt Part 26: stiffness.

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

10.8 Test Report


The test report shall include the following information:
(a) General:
1. reference to this test method, including version date
2. age of the specimens at the time of testing (in days).
(b) Information on specimens:
1. sample number
2. type and origin of asphalt mix
3. method of manufacture or sampling (e.g. plant mixed or laboratory mixed)
4. air void content of beam specimens.
(c) Information on the test and results:
1. temperature at which the test was carried out
2. test frequencies
3. strain level in micro-strain
4. for each specimen and each combination of test temperature and frequency: complex modulus and
phase angle, or real and imaginary components of the complex modulus (E1 and E2 ).
(d) Optional information on a set of tests:
1. plots of data and graphs
2. master curve developed from test data in accordance with the procedure in Section 12 of this
Austroads test method
3. results of equipment check as per Section 7.3 of this Austroads test method.

11.

Fatigue Resistance Test

11.1 Definitions, Terms and Symbols


Definitions, Terms and Symbols shall be as specified in Sections 3.1 and 3.5 of EN 12697-24:2012,
Bituminous mixtures Test methods for hot mix asphalt Part 24: Resistance to fatigue.

11.2 Testing Principle


As described in Sections 7.4 and D.1 of EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test methods for hot
mix asphalt Part 24: Resistance to fatigue.

11.3 Equipment
As described in Section 7 of this Austroads test method.

11.4 Specimen Preparation


As described in Section 8 of this Austroads test method.

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

11.5 Test Conditions


One fatigue line result comprises measurements on not less than 18 individual specimens. The test shall be
undertaken at not less than three loading levels (e.g. three strain levels in constant deflection mode). The
levels for the chosen loading mode shall be chosen in such a way that the fatigue lives are within the range
104 to 2 106 cycles. The load conditions shall be selected so that the number of cycles to failure exceeds
106 for at least 20% of tests.
The Austroads asphalt fatigue resistance test is typically performed at a temperature of 20 C and a loading
frequency of 10 Hz.

Be aware that heat may accumulate in the specimen. This problem is especially dominant at prolonged
measurements and/or higher frequencies.

11.6 Testing Procedure


The test procedure shall be as described in Section D.4 of EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test
methods for hot mix asphalt Part 24: Resistance to fatigue (four point bending test in sinusoidal loading mode).

11.7 Expression of Results


Results shall be expressed as described in Section D.5 of EN 12697-24:2012, Bituminous mixtures Test
methods for hot mix asphalt Part 24: Resistance to fatigue.

11.8 Test Report


The test report shall include the following information:
(a) General:
1. reference to this Austroads test method, including version date
2. age of the specimens at the time of testing (in days).
(b) Information on specimens:
1. sample number
2. type and origin of asphalt mix
3. method of manufacture or sampling (e.g. plant mixed or laboratory mixed)
4. air void content of beam specimens.
(c) Information on the test and results:
1. temperature at which the test was carried out
2. test frequency
3. strain level in micro-strain
4. chosen failure criterion (e.g. 50% stiffness reduction)
5. initial stiffness of the specimen measured at the 50th load cycle
6. number of cycles to failure for each specimen
7. comments on incidents during test.
(d) Optional information on a set of tests:
1. results of equipment check as per Section 7.3 of this Austroads test method
2. average number of cycles and the standard deviation obtained for each level of the chosen loading
mode
3. representation of the fatigue line and regression parameters A0 and A1
4. initial strain corresponding with a fatigue life of 106 cycles for the chosen failure criteria and set of
test conditions.
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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

12.

Derivation of the Master Curve

12.1 Principle
To develop modulus relationships that are valid at any combination of loading speed and temperature, tests
are run at different load frequencies and temperatures in accordance with the procedure in Section 10 of this
Austroads test method. The results are shifted to fit a continuous function at a selected reference
temperature, this is the so-called modulus master curve. An example of a master curve constructed using
flexural modulus testing on an AC14 asphalt mix with Class 320 bitumen is shown in Figure 12.1. Once the
master curve is developed, the modulus at any point of interest can be calculated; the process is typically
automated through the use of software. In the example of Figure 12.1, and using the model form of the
master curve (Equation 1), it can be determined that the modulus at 25 C and 10 Hz is equal to the modulus
at the reference temperature (in this case 20 C) and 1.58 Hz, resulting in a value of 4908 MPa.
Figure 12.1: E* Master curve from four point bending tests

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

12.2 Experimental Data


To construct the master curve shown in Figure 12.1, tests were run at 0 C, 10 C, 20 C and 30 C. A
frequency sweep was performed at each of the temperatures using load frequencies of 0.1 Hz, 0.5 Hz, 1 Hz,
5 Hz, 10 Hz, 20 Hz. The results are shown in Table 12.1.
Table 12.1:

Example of complex modulus results

Temperature
(C)

Frequency
(Hz)

10

20

30

Complex modulus for replicate


specimens (MPa)

Statistics

7B2

14B3

15B1

27B3

Mean
(MPa)

STDEV
(MPa)

CoV
(%)

0.1

13 837

12 821

12 689

16 403

13 938

1 722

12.4

0.5

16 099

14 867

15 184

19 126

16 319

1 943

11.9

16 740

15 540

16 046

19 935

17 065

1 975

11.6

18 501

16 967

17 909

22 267

18 911

2 325

12.3

10

19 137

17 639

18 727

23 130

19 658

2 399

12.2

20

19 837

18 247

19 477

23 803

20 341

2 406

11.8

0.1

6 875

7 135

7 291

8 169

7 368

561

7.6

0.5

9 044

9 214

9 378

10 386

9 506

603

6.3

10 168

10 236

10 444

11 467

10 579

604

5.7

12 513

12 574

12 787

13 965

12 960

680

5.2

10

13 469

13 487

13 721

14 893

13 893

677

4.9

20

14 271

14 296

14 509

15 844

14 730

750

5.1

0.1

1 791

2 055

2 348

2 357

2 138

270

12.6

0.5

3 275

3 225

3 688

3 601

3 447

231

6.7

4 163

4 134

4 520

4 612

4 357

244

5.6

6 304

6 107

6 674

6 740

6 456

302

4.7

10

7 235

7 106

7 753

7 785

7 470

350

4.7

20

8 146

7 916

8 695

8 725

8 371

403

4.8

0.1

595

571

551

689

602

61

10.1

0.5

992

896

863

1 029

945

78

8.3

1 303

1 169

1 136

1 333

1 235

97

7.9

2 601

2 303

2 287

2 648

2 460

191

7.8

10

3 404

2 993

2 959

3 437

3 198

257

8.0

20

4 139

3 618

3 607

4 120

3 871

299

7.7

Various functions can be used to construct a master curve from such data. The model form recommended in
this Austroads test method is known as the sigmoidal model. The sigmoidal function is shown in Equation 1.

10 | | = +

where

, , ,

reduced frequency

fitting parameters

1+

+ 10

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

The results of the complex modulus tests at different temperatures as shown in Table 12.1 are shifted with
respect to time of loading until a single smooth curve emerges, by means of the reduced frequency
parameter (fr). The reduced frequency is defined in Equation 2 as the actual loading frequency in the test
multiplied by the time-temperature shift factor, aT.
2

where

frequency (Hz)

shift factor as a function of temperature (C)

temperature (C)

The shift function is fitted using a second-order polynomial equation (Equation 3).

where

a, b

log10 ( a ) = a(T T )2 + b(T T )


=

fitting parameters

Reference temperature

Microsoft Excel solver can be used to simultaneously determine the optimum values for the fitting
parameters a, b, , , , , in Equation 1 and Equation 2, against a set of experimental values of E*
determined in accordance with Section 10. Fit optimisation is performed by maximising the coefficient of
determination (R2) of the fit. To ensure consistency of curve fitting, use of the seed values provided in
Table 12.2 is recommended.
Table 12.2:

Recommended seed values for master curve fitting

2.7

1.6

1.0

0.73

3E-04

0.1

The frequency shift factor as a function of temperature is used to construct the temperature shift factor in
Figure 12.2. In the fitting process, a reference temperature is selected, for which fr is set equal to f. The
reference temperature (Tref) used for the fit in this case is 20 C. This translates into a shift factor of 1 at
20 C, which plots as 0 in the figure (log10(1) = 0).

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Austroads Test Method AGPT/T274


Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

Figure 12.2: Example temperature shift factor

The master curve parameters providing the best fit to the data in Table 12.1 are shown in Table 12.3. With
these parameters entered into Equation 1 and Equation 2, the modulus of the asphalt material can now be
calculated for any combination of loading frequency and temperature, and to plot the master curve as shown
in Figure 12.1.
Table 12.3:

Master curve fitting parameters

R2

Tref (C)

1.147

3.255

1.176

0.4729

6.735E-04

0.1618

0.998

20

12.3 Test Report


The test report shall include the following information:
(a)

all information required as per Section 10.8

(b) numerical values of the master curve fitting parameters in four significant figures.

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Characterisation of Flexural Stiffness and Fatigue Performance of Bituminous Mixes

Amendment Record
Amendment
No.

Clauses amended

Action

Date

10.5.1, 11.8, 12.1, 12.2

Substitution

12/01/2016

Table 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3

Format

18/01/2016

Key
Format

Change in format

Substitution

Old clause removed and replaced with new clause

New

Insertion of new clause

Removed

Old clauses removed

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