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International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552

Investigation on surface characteristics of epoxy asphalt concrete

Ke Zhong a, Xu Yang b,⇑, Xiaohao Wei c
Research Institute of Highway Ministry Transport, Beijing 100088, China
School of Engineering, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Bandar Sunway, Selangor 47500, Malaysia
School of Transportation, Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China

Received 5 October 2016; received in revised form 20 July 2017; accepted 26 July 2017
Available online 12 August 2017


The mechanical performance of epoxy asphalt concrete has been well reported in existing studies. This study investigated the surface
characteristics of asphalt concrete, including the permeability, friction coefficient, moisture damage resistance and surface texture. The
permeability test, dynamic friction test, Cantabro test, Hamburg test and laser texture scanning test were carried out for such investiga-
tions. Test results show that the permeability of the epoxy asphalt concrete was very low, which is desirable for protecting the steel deck.
The friction coefficient can satisfy the requirement for steel deck bridge according to the Pendulum Number. However, it was found that
the skid resistance could be a concern when the vehicle speed is higher than a certain level according to the dynamic friction test. The
results suggested to control the traffic speed when epoxy asphalt concrete is applied as steel bridge pavement. In terms of the raveling and
stripping, it was found that the epoxy asphalt mixture has an excellent anti-stripping performance based on the Cantabro test and Ham-
burg wheel tracking test results. The yield point was not reached after 20,000 loading cycles at 60 °C in the immersed Hamburg wheel
tracking test. The mean profile depth of the epoxy asphalt concrete is 0.305 mm, much lower than conventional asphalt concrete indi-
cating a very fine surface texture.
Ó 2017 Chinese Society of Pavement Engineering. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND
license (

Keywords: Surface characteristics; Epoxy asphalt; Skid resistance; Permeability; Anti-stripping; Surface texture

1. Introduction both cable-stayed and suspension bridges. The cable-

stayed bridges include the Second Nanjing Yangtze Bridge,
Epoxy asphalt concrete is considered as a steel deck the Third Nanjing Yangtze Bridge, the Sutong Yangtze
pavement material with excellent strength properties, high Bridge, the Shanghai Yangtze Bridge, etc. The suspension
temperature stability and good fatigue resistance [1,2]. bridges include the Runyang Yangtze Bridge, the Jiangyin
The application of epoxy asphalt concrete in steel bridge Yangtze Bridge, the Wuhan Yangluo Yangtze Highway
was firstly reported in the United States in 1960s [3]. It Bridge, etc. In addition, epoxy asphalt has also been used
was firstly introduced to China in the Second Nanjing in combined highway and railway bridges, such as the
Yangtze Bridge in early 2000s [4]. Afterward, it has been Wuhan Tianxingzhou Yangtze Bridge.
widely used in several long-span steel bridges, including The road performances of epoxy asphalt concrete have
been studied with a number of laboratory tests both in
⇑ Corresponding author. China and other countries for a long time. In terms of
E-mail address: (X. Yang). the strength performance, the research group of Southeast
Peer review under responsibility of Chinese Society of Pavement University in China developed a large-tonnage Marshall
1996-6814/Ó 2017 Chinese Society of Pavement Engineering. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
546 K. Zhong et al. / International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552

stability instrument and found that the Marshall stability found that the properties of epoxy asphalt can meet the
of epoxy asphalt concrete can be higher than 50 kN after requirement well.
curing [5], which is much higher than that of conventional
asphalt concrete (10  15 kN). Existing studies have widely 2.2. Aggregate and gradation
reported the better high temperature performance of epoxy
asphalt concrete compared to conventional asphalt con- High-quality and wear-resisting basalt (6 different size of
crete [2,6,7]. In the study on Yangluo Yangtze River Bridge aggregate) and limestone fillers were used to prepare the
pavement in Wuhan led by the research team, the dynamic epoxy asphalt concrete in this study. Dense gradation with
stability of epoxy asphalt concrete can reach more than a nominal maximum size of 9.5 mm was used for the
20,000 cycles/mm in the Hamburg wheel tracking test at aggregate gradation. The detailed gradation is shown in
80 °C [8]. In comparison, the dynamic stability of conven- Table 2.
tional asphalt concrete can rarely reach 6000 cycles/mm. In
the authors’ previous study [9], the critical low temperature 2.3. Asphalt content
of epoxy asphalt concrete was 28.4 °C during the thermal
stress restrained specimen test, satisfying the minimum The Marshall Mix design procedure was carried out,
design temperature (15 °C) for long-span steel bridge and the standard Marshall specimen was tested after a 4-
pavement in the regions where the Yangtze River passes. h curing at the temperature of 121 °C. The optimum
In the fatigue test model of composite structure developed asphalt content was determined when the Marshall stabil-
by the research team in Southeast University in bridge deck ity reaches the highest value. The results showed that the
pavement, fatigue crack did not appear in epoxy asphalt optimal binder-aggregate ratio was 6.5:100. The air void
concrete under a 5 kN load (equivalent to 140 kN axle load content was 2.0% at the optimum mix design.
on steel bridge deck) after 12 million cycles [5,8]. In addi-
tion, it was found the fatigue performance of epoxy asphalt
3. Experimental setup
concrete is much better than conventional asphalt concrete
[1]. Due to the wide application of epoxy asphalt concrete
3.1. Permeability
in China, the design procedure of epoxy asphalt concrete
for steel bridges have also been developed [10]. In sum-
As a pavement material for steel bridge deck, the perme-
mary, the study of epoxy asphalt concrete has been widely
ability should be as low as possible to prevent water from
reported on its strength properties, rutting resistance and
intruding so that the steel deck can be protected from ero-
fatigue performance. However, drainage, anti-skid, anti-
sion. In this study, the permeability of the epoxy asphalt
stripping and other surface characteristics of epoxy asphalt
concrete was investigated using the Falling Head Perme-
concrete was rarely reported [11,12].
ability Tester, which has been widely used to test the per-
Although the mechanical performance of epoxy asphalt
meability of asphalt materials and concrete materials.
binders or mixtures have been widely reported, the surface
The Flexible Wall Permeameter was used in this test and
characteristics which have a great influence on the driving
the test procedure followed the standard test ASTM
experience have not been well researched. Therefore, the
PS129. Cylindrical specimens were fabricated by a Super-
objective of this study is to evaluate the surface character-
pave gyratory compactor with a diameter of 100 mm and
istics of epoxy asphalt concrete, including permeability,
a height of 80 mm. To ensure the saturation of the speci-
skid resistance, raveling and stripping, and surface texture.
mens, the specimen was immersed under water with a vac-
uum pressure of 70 kPa for more than 20 min. Then the
2. Material preparation specimen was placed in the Flexible Wall Permeameter to
test the permeability. The test setup is shown in Fig. 1.
2.1. Epoxy asphalt binder An initial water head pressure of 70 cm was applied at
the sample and the starting time was recorded as t1. During
The epoxy asphalt binder was produced by mixing the permeability test, the water flowed freely through the
epoxy resin, base asphalt and curing agent with a proper specimen. The water head was measured again at the end-
fraction at a certain condition. Some basic properties of ing time t2. The permeability coefficient was calculated
the epoxy asphalt binder are shown in Table 1. It can be using Dulcie’s Law as shown in Eq. (1).

Table 1
Property of epoxy asphalt binder.
Parameter Requirement Test value Method
Tensile strength (23 °C)/MPa 1.5 3.7 ASTM D 638
Elongation (23 °C)/% 200 208 ASTM D 638
Heat deflection temperature/°C 1825 20 ASTM D 648
K. Zhong et al. / International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552 547

Table 2
The gradation of the epoxy asphalt mixture.
Size (mm) 16 13.2 9.5 4.75 2.36 1.18 0.6 0.3 0.15 0.075
Cumulative passing 100 100 99 77.6 62.3 49.1 37.8 24.6 18 11.4

Fig. 2. The laser texture scanner.

3.3. Skid resistance

3.3.1. Pendulum friction test

Skid resistance is also important for the riding safety for
Fig. 1. The setup of the Flexible Wall Permeameter. long-span steel bridges. The British Pendulum friction tes-
ter was employed to test the friction coefficient of epoxy
asphalt concrete in this study according to the procedure
  in ASTM E303. The plate-like specimen was formed by
al h1
k¼ Ln ð1Þ steel wheel roller with a size of 502  167  76 mm. Six
ADt h2
replicates were tested for this purpose. The test setup is
where, shown in Fig. 3(a).
k – permeability coefficient (cm/s);
a – sectional area of the head of water pipe (cm2); 3.3.2. Dynamic friction coefficient
l – thickness of the specimen (cm); Dynamic Friction Tester was employed to test the
A – area of the specimen (cm2); dynamic friction coefficient of epoxy asphalt concrete
Dt – time difference (t2t1); under different vehicle speeds. The test followed the process
h1 – the initial water head (cm); of ASTM E1911. The plate-like specimen was formed by a
h2 – the ending water head (cm). steel wheel roller, and the size was 502  167  76 mm. The
test setup is shown in Fig. 3(b). The dynamic friction coef-
ficient is calculated according to Eq. (2).
3.2. Surface texture
F k ¼ lk  g ð2Þ
Surface texture is very important for the driving safety where,
because it is closely related to the skid resistance and break
distance of vehicles. A rough surface texture is normally Fk = force of kinetic friction
desirable for driving safety. Meanwhile, it has been lk = coefficient of kinetic friction
reported that the surface texture also affects the traffic noise g = normal force
[13,14]. As a result, the surface texture of pavement has
attracted large research interests in recent years. Laser
scanner has been widely applied to analyze pavement sur- 3.4. Raveling and stripping
face texture in recent years [15,16]. In this study, a laser tex-
ture scanner was employed to study the surface Raveling and stripping are common pavement
characteristics of epoxy asphalt concrete pavement. The distresses. They are mainly resulted from the low
test setup of the laser scanner is shown in Fig. 2. asphalt-aggregate bond strength and the high moisture
548 K. Zhong et al. / International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552

a) b)
Fig. 3. Setup of: (a) Pendulum friction test; and (b) dynamic friction coefficient test.

susceptibility. Raveling and stripping can cause potholes or asphalt concrete. The steel wheel load strength was
loose aggregates on pavement surface, which may also 0.7 MPa. The test automatically ended after 20,000 loading
bring driving safety issue. In this study, the raveling and cycles. The immersed Hamburg wheel tracking test is
stripping performance was evaluated through the Cantabro shown in Fig. 4.
test and Hamburg wheel tracking test. The details of each
test are shown as follows. 4. Results and discussion

3.4.1. Cantabro test 4.1. Permeability

Cantabro test was conducted to evaluate the bond
strength of the interface between asphalt and aggregate. The results show that pressure scale decreased only
The test procedure was as follows. Standard Marshall spec- 2 mm after 5 min under the pressure of 70 cm water head,
imens were fabricated first. Then the specimens were and the permeability coefficient of epoxy asphalt concrete
immersed under water for 20 h at 20 °C. After it was wiped was 7.7  105 mm/s. This means that the epoxy asphalt
dry, the weight was measured as m0. After that, it was put concrete has a very low permeability. This mainly due to
into Los Angel abrasion machine without balls, rotating the low air voids of the epoxy asphalt concrete as a dense
for 10 min at a speed of 30 rounds per minute (RPM). gradation was used. The air voids of epoxy asphalt con-
The sample weight was measured again as m1. The mass crete can be as low as 2%. Previous studies have shown that
abrasion rate was determined by Eq. (3). A higher abrasion the permeability would increase sharply with an increase in
rate indicates a lower raveling resistance. air voids and such a permeability coefficient at 2% air voids
AR ¼ ðm0  m1 Þ=m0 ð3Þ also agreed well with the previous findings [17]. It has been
well known that if the air voids of newly constructed
where, asphalt pavement are low, rutting or bleeding could be a
noticeable concern, so the initial air voids of regular
AR = abrasion rate; asphalt pavement is usually controlled around 7%. How-
m0 = the original weight; ever, due to the thermo-setting property of epoxy asphalt,
m1 = the weight after the abrasion;

3.4.2. Hamburg wheel tracking test

Hamburg test was conducted to evaluate high tempera-
ture stability of asphalt concrete in condition of high tem-
perature and water. Rut depth and dynamic stability is
obtained in Hamburg test. The high temperature stability
of epoxy asphalt concrete is excellent in experiment and
engineering practice. In this paper, Hamburg wheel track-
ing test was employed not to evaluate the high temperature
stability, but the stripping resistance under high tempera-
ture water and tire contact loading. The specimen was
immersed under water at 60 °C. The Hamburg wheel track-
ing test immersed under water has also been applied in pre-
vious studies to evaluate the anti-stripping property of Fig. 4. Setup of the Hamburg wheel tracking test.
K. Zhong et al. / International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552 549

the common distress such as rutting or bleeding in conven- repeatability. The pendulum numbers are in the range from
tional asphalt pavement is not a problem for epoxy asphalt 78 to 85, with an average value of 83.6. This value is close
concrete. Because epoxy asphalt concrete is widely used as to conventional asphalt concrete reported in previous stud-
the pavement material of steel bridge decks. The low per- ies [20]. It should be noted here that conventional asphalt
meability is very helpful to prevent water from contacting concrete usually has a visibly higher air voids than epoxy
the steel deck so that the steel deck can be protected. asphalt concrete. This can also be suggested from the sur-
face texture discussed above that a higher air voids nor-
4.2. Surface texture mally corresponds to a coarser surface texture. It has
been well reported that surface texture has a great influence
Fig. 5 shows the surface texture height from the laser on the skid resistance of asphalt pavement and a coarser
texture scanner. The mean profile depth is 0.305 mm and surface textures is preferable for skid consideration
the estimated texture depth is 0.432 mm. The profile depth [21,22]. The skid resistance of asphalt concrete normally
is much lower than that of conventional asphalt pavement, decreases with a drop in air voids due to the smoother sur-
which can be easily higher than 1 mm for conventional face texture. Here, the epoxy asphalt concrete with a much
asphalt pavement and can be higher than 3 mm for open lower air voids can acquire comparable skid resistance with
graded friction course (OGFC) [18,19]. This can be attrib- conventional asphalt concrete. This is possibly due to the
uted to the overall finer aggregate size and low air voids high friction coefficient of epoxy asphalt. In general, pen-
compared to conventional asphalt mixture. According to dulum friction number should be higher than 45 in steel
Table 2, the aggregate size is dense-graded. Additionally, deck pavement design to meet the skid resistance require-
although the nominal aggregate size is 9.5 mm, the cumula- ment. Therefore, pendulum friction coefficient of epoxy
tive passing percent of 9.5 mm is 99%, indicating that asphalt concrete is in line with the requirements of skid
almost all of the aggregates are smaller than 9.5 mm. resistance of pavement design according to Fig. 6.
Therefore, the overall aggregate size is actually smaller
than typical asphalt mixture with a nominal aggregate size 4.3.2. Dynamic friction coefficient
of 9.5 mm. A smaller aggregate size can cause overall a Fig. 7 shows the dynamic friction coefficients for the
smaller surface profile depth. In addition, the air void con- three replicates tested under different vehicle speeds. RW-
tent of the epoxy asphalt mixture is only about 2%, which EP-DGAC means the wheel rolling of epoxy asphalt con-
results in a lower profile depth as well. crete with dense gradations. It can be found that the results
of the three replicates are very close, especially when the
4.3. Skid resistance testing speed is high, indicating a good repeatability. In
addition, it can be observed that with an increase in vehicle
4.3.1. Pendulum friction test speed, the friction coefficient decreases. This is consistent
Fig. 6 shows the British Pendulum friction test results with the findings in previous studies that the friction coef-
for the six replicates. The test results overall show a good ficient of pavement surface is not constant but dependent
on vehicle speed [23,24]. Usually a higher vehicle speed
results in a lower friction coefficient. An exponential func-
tion was modeled to express the relationship between fric-
tion coefficient and speed [24]. In terms of the case in this
study, the friction coefficient decreases quickly first then
slowly when the vehicle speed is lower than 80 km/h. How-
ever, there is an inflection point when the speed just passes


Pendulum friction number





1 2 3 4 5 6
Parallel test/times

Fig. 5. Laser texture scan test for epoxy asphalt concrete. Fig. 6. Results of British Pendulum Tester.
550 K. Zhong et al. / International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552

0.7 RW-EP-DGAC-1
Friction coefficient

0 20 40 60 80 100
Vehicle speed (km/h)

Fig. 7. Results of dynamic friction test. Fig. 8. The epoxy asphalt concrete samples after the wheel tracking test.

80 km/h. It implies that when the vehicle speed is higher asphalt concrete is much higher than that of conventional
than a certain value, the friction coefficient may decrease asphalt concretes [1,2]. In addition, the low surface texture
quickly. Because the dynamic friction tester simulates the may also contribute to the raveling resistance. A low air
tire-pavement interaction using rubber slider and asphalt voids is like to provide less weak points for the occurrence
concrete, the test results can reflect the real driving condi- of raveling.
tion to a certain extent. Under this circumstance, the driv-
ing safety could be a potential concern. Therefore, it is 4.4.2. Hamburg wheel tracking test
recommended that the speed should be controlled under Fig. 8 shows the Hamburg wheel tracking test results for
a certain level (around 80 km/h in this case) when driving the epoxy asphalt concrete samples tested at 60 °C. While
on the epoxy asphalt pavement. Since epoxy asphalt con- there is a slight rutting depth under the wheel track load-
crete has been widely used in long-span steel bridges, the ing, there is no bump on the sides of the track. In a typical
loss of skid resistance at a high speed could be even more Hamburg wheel tracking test for asphalt mixtures, the rut-
serious compared to that in common highway roads. This ting depth is usually associated with bumps on the track
indicates the speed control is very necessary for steel bridge sides. The reason of this is that the particles are pushed
paved by epoxy asphalt concrete. to the sides under the wheel loading. This indicates that
the particle deformation is marginal in this case and a typ-
ical rutting did not occur. Some naked aggregate particles
4.4. Raveling and stripping suggest the stripping of the epoxy asphalt from aggregates.
This can be attributed to the decreased bond strength of
4.4.1. Cantabro test interface at such a high temperature. Another possible rea-
Table 3 shows the Cantabro loss results of epoxy asphalt son for this is the abrasion between the steel wheel and
concrete of three replicates. It can be seen that the Can- pavement surface.
tabro loss test has a good repeatability. The average abra- Fig. 9 shows the rutting depth development during the
sion rates of the three replicates were 12.5%, with a wheel tracking test. The average rutting depth of the two
standard deviation of only 0.61%. In comparison, the aver- replicates after 20,000 loading cycles is 9.8 mm. It is worth
age abrasion rate of a conventional dense graded asphalt to be noted that the testing temperature was 60 °C, under
mixture is 18.2%, which is 50% higher than that of the which the rutting depth of conventional asphalt mixture
epoxy asphalt mixture. This indicates that the epoxy can be much higher, even for polymer modified asphalt
asphalt mixture has a better anti-stripping performance concrete [25,26]. In addition, no visible yield point is found
than conventional asphalt mixture. The low mass loss rate at the end of the test. The yield point in the rutting depth
of the epoxy asphalt concrete may result from the high development curve is usually regarded as the transient
cohesion of epoxy asphalt and the high adhesion at the point from rutting to moisture damage. That is, from this
aggregate-asphalt interface. It has been well reported that point, the moisture damage become to be dominant and
the tensile strength and fatigue performance of epoxy the rutting depth develops quickly. Therefore, the results

Table 3
Cantabro loss results of epoxy asphalt mixture.
Number Weight before Weight after Weight loss (g) Mass abrasion Average Standard deviation
test, m0 (g) test, m1 (g) rate (%) abrasion rate (%) (%)
1 1056.9 932.1 124.8 11.8 12.5
2 1058.4 922.1 136.3 12.9 0.61
3 1053.5 918.2 135.3 12.8
K. Zhong et al. / International Journal of Pavement Research and Technology 10 (2017) 545–552 551

0 (4) Both the Cantabro test and Hamburg wheel track test
-2 showed that the epoxy asphalt concrete possesses an
-4 excellent anti stripping performance as compared to
Rutting depth (mm)

-6 conventional asphalt concrete.

-12 Acknowledgement
This work was undertaken with funding from National
-18 RW-EP-DGAC-HW-1-1 Natural Science Foundation of China (Program No.
-20 51408280).
0 5000 10000 15000 20000
Loading cycles
Fig. 9. Rutting depth development during the wheel tracking test.
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