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Lecture 2

All about gradation

"Aggregate" is a collective term for the mineral materials such as sand, gravel and crushed stone that are used with an asphalt binding medium to form compound materials like hot mix asphalt (HMA). Aggregate accounts for about 92 to 96 percent by total weight of HMA mixture.

Aggregate properties of concern in mix design are generally physical in nature and can be divided up into three major categories: Gradation and size Particle size distribution. Physical attributes requirements Properties associated with physical shape and contamination measurements that can at least partially be controlled during production. Source properties Properties inherent in the rock source for the aggregate

Physical attributes requirements

Physical attributes requirements requirements are:

Coarse Aggregate Angularity (CAA) Fine Aggregate Angularity (FAA) Flat & Elongated Particles Sand Equivalent

Coarse Aggregate Angularity (CAA)

The coarse aggregate angularity (CAA) test is a method of determining the angularity of coarse aggregate. Coarse aggregate angularity is important to ensure better aggregate interlock and prevent excessive HMA deformation under load (rutting). Aggregate angularity test conducted by visually inspecting of a small sample

Aggregate Angularity

Aggregate Angularity

Aggregate Angularity

This test is used to help ensure that the resulting HMA mixture will be resistant to deformation under repeated loads.

Fine aggregate angularity (FAA) test

The fine aggregate angularity (FAA) test is an indirect method of assessing the angularity of fine aggregate. Fine aggregate angularity is important because an excess of rounded fine aggregate (often in the form of natural sand) can lead to HMA rutting.

Fine aggregate angularity (FAA) test

The FAA test estimates fine aggregate angularity by measuring the loose uncompacted void content of a fine aggregate sample. The higher the void content, the higher the assumed angularity and rougher the surface.

FAA test
Calculate the Un-compacted Voids as follows: U = V (F/G) x 100 V Where: U = Un-compacted Voids V = Volume of Measure F = Net mass of fine aggregate in the measure G = Bulk Dry Specific Gravity of the Blend of fine aggregate

The flat and elongated particle test

The flat and elongated particle test is used to determine the dimensional ratios for aggregate particles of specific sieve sizes. Flat or elongated particles tend to lock up more readily during compaction making compaction more difficult. They also have a tendency to fracture during compaction along their weak, narrow dimension, which can effectively make aggregate gradation finer and possibly cause lower-than-expected HMA.

The flat and elongated particles


The flat and elongated particles

This flat and elongated particle test uses a proportional caliper to help measure dimensional ratios. The specified ratio is set on the caliper and then about 100 particles are tested for each specified sieve size.


Calipers for the flat and elongated particle test


Sand equivalent test

The sand equivalent test is a rapid field test to show the relative proportions of fine dust or claylike materials in fine aggregate (or granular soils). The term "sand equivalent" expresses the concept that most fine aggregates are mixtures of desirable coarse particles (e.g., sand) and generally undesirable clay or plastic fines and dust. These materials can coat aggregate particles and prevent proper asphalt binder-aggregate bonding.

Sand Equivalent Test Apparatus


Sand Equivalent Test

In the sand equivalent test, a sample of aggregate passing the No. 4 (4.75 mm) sieve and a small amount of flocculating solution are poured into a graduated cylinder and are shaken slowly to loosen the clay-like coatings from the sand particles. Additional flocculation solution is added forcing the clay-like material into suspension above the sand. After a prescribed sedimentation period, the height of flocculated clay and height of sand are determined and the sand equivalent is expressed as a ratio of the height of sand over the height of clay. Higher sand equivalent values indicate "cleaner" (less fine dust or clay-like materials) aggregate.

Why Gradation in the Lab???


Gradationhow much imp???

The particle size distribution or gradation of aggregate is one of the most influential characteristics in determining how an HMA mixture will perform as a pavement material. Aggregate gradation influences almost every important HMA property including stiffness, stability, durability, permeability, workability, fatigue resistance, skid resistance and resistance to moisture damage




Good HMA pavements function well because they are designed, produced and placed in such a way as to give them certain desirable properties. There are several properties that contribute to the quality of HMA pavements. They include stability, durability, impermeability, workability, flexibility, and fatigue resistance

Stability of a HMA pavement is the ability of the mixture to resist shoving and rutting under loads (traffic). A stable pavement maintains the shape and smoothness required under repeated loading; an unstable pavement develops ruts (channels), raveling and other signs of shifting of the HMA.

Shoving at a busy intersection


Ravelingdislodgement of aggregate particles




The stability of a mix depends on internal friction and cohesion. Internal friction among the aggregate particles (inter-particle friction) is related to aggregate characteristics such as shape and surface texture. Cohesion results from the bonding ability of the binder. A proper degree of both internal friction and cohesion in HMA prevents the aggregate particles from being moved past each other by the forces exerted by traffic. In general, the more angular the shape of the aggregate particles and the more rough their surface texture, the higher the stability of the HMA

The durability of a HMA pavement is the ability of the HMA pavement to resist changes in the binder oxidation and disintegration of the aggregate. These factors may be the result of weather, traffic, or a combination of the two. Generally, durability of a HMA may be enhanced by three methods. They are: using maximum binder content, using a sound aggregate, and designing and compacting the HMA for maximum impermeability

Max binder content & durability

Maximum binder content increases durability because thick binder films do not age and harden as rapidly as thin films. Consequently, the binder retains the original characteristics longer. Also, maximum binder content effectively seals off a greater percentage of interconnected air voids in the pavement, making the penetration of water and air difficult. A certain percentage of air voids is required to be left in the pavement to allow for expansion of the binder in hot weather.

Dense gradation & durability

A dense gradation of sound, tough aggregate contributes to pavement durability by providing closer contact between aggregate particles that enhances the impermeability of the HMA, and resists disintegration under traffic.


Impermeability is the resistance of a HMA pavement to the passage of air and water into or through the mixture. This characteristic is related to the void content of the compacted HMA, and much of the discussion on voids in the mix design relates to the impermeability. Even though void content is an indication of the potential for passage of air and water through a pavement, the character of these voids is more important than the number of voids. The size of the voids, whether or not the voids are interconnected, and the access of the voids to the surface of the pavement all determine the degree of impermeability.

Workability describes the ease with which a paving HMA may be placed and compacted. Workability may be improved by changing mix design parameters, aggregate sources, and/or gradation. Harsh HMA (HMA containing a high percentage of coarse aggregate) has a tendency to segregate during handling and also may be difficult to compact. Through the use of trial mixes in the laboratory, additional fine aggregate and perhaps binder may be added to a harsh HMA to make the mixture more workable. Care is required to be taken to ensure that the altered HMA meets all the other design criteria


WORKABILITY Excess fines may also affect workability. Depending on the characteristics of the fines, the fines may cause the HMA to become tough or gummy, making the mixture difficult to compact


Flexibility is the ability of a HMA pavement to adjust to gradual settlements and movements in the sub-grade without cracking. Since virtually all sub-grades either settle (under loading) or rise (from soil expansion), flexibility is a desirable characteristic for all HMA pavements. An open graded HMA with high binder content is generally more flexible than a dense graded, low binder content HMA. Sometimes the need for flexibility conflicts with stability requirements, so much care need to be taken.

Fatigue resistance is the pavement's resistance to repeated bending under wheel loads (traffic). Air voids (related to binder content) and binder viscosity have a significant effect on fatigue resistance. As the percentage of air voids in the pavement increases, either by design or lack of compaction, pavement fatigue life (the length of time during which an in-service pavement is sufficiently fatigue-resistant) is drastically shortened. Likewise, a pavement containing binder that has aged and hardened significantly has reduced resistance to fatigue.

Thickness & Strength of pavement

The thickness and strength characteristics of the pavement and the supporting strength of the subgrade also have an effect on the pavement life and prevention of load associated cracking. Thick, well supported pavements do not bend as much under loading as thin or poorly supported pavements. Therefore, thick well supported pavements have longer fatigue lives.

Gradationhow much imp???

Theoretically, there exists a particular gradation that, for a given maximum aggregate size, will produce the maximum density. This gradation would involve a particle arrangement where successively smaller particles are packed within the voids between larger particles

Smaller particles are packed within the voids between larger particles


Gradationhow much imp???

If done ideally, this would result in a minimum void space between particles and produce a maximum density. Practically, an aggregate gradation of maximum density is not desired because a certain amount of void space is required to provide adequate volume for the asphalt binder to occupy

Three different aspects


what is the best gradation?

Gradation has a profound effect on material performance. But what is the best gradation? This is a complicated question, the answer to which will vary depending upon the material (HMA) its desired characteristics, loading, environmental

what is the best gradation?

It might be reasonable to believe that the best gradation is one that produces the maximum density. This would involve a particle arrangement where smaller particles are packed between the larger particles, which reduces the void space between particles. This creates more particle-to-particle contact, which in HMA would increase stability and reduce water infiltration


But we require space/voids

However, some minimum amount of void space is necessary to: Provide enough volume for the binder (asphalt binder) to occupy. Promote rapid drainage and resistance to frost action for base and sub-base courses


Fuller and Thompson Eq

A widely used equation to describe a maximum density gradation was developed by Fuller and Thompson in 1907. Their basic equation is:


Maximum density curves for 0.45 Power gradation graph each curve is for a different maximum aggregate size)


Gradation types
Dense or Well-Graded Refers to a gradation that is near the FHWAs 0.45 power curve for maximum density. The most common HMA mix designs tend to use dense graded aggregate. Typical gradations are near the 0.45 power curve but not right on it. Its primary use is as a surface course for locations with high traffic levels or when the potential for rutting within the HMA layer exists.

Dense-graded mix
A dense-graded mix is a well-graded HMA mixture intended for general use. When properly designed and constructed, a densegraded mix is relatively impermeable. They can further be classified as either finegraded or coarse-graded. Fine-graded mixes have more fine and sand sized particles than coarse-graded mixes

Gap gradedMIX
Gap graded. Refers to a gradation that contains only a small percentage of aggregate particles in the mid-size range. The curve is flat in the midsize range. Some PCC mix designs use gap graded aggregate to provide a more economical mix since less sand can be used for a given workability. HMA gap graded mixes can be prone to segregation during placement.

A gap-graded HMA
SMA is a gap-graded HMA that is designed to maximize deformation (rutting) resistance and durability by using a structural basis of stone-onstone contact.
Because the aggregates are all in contact, rut resistance relies on aggregate properties rather than asphalt binder properties. Since aggregates do not deform as much as asphalt binder under load, this stone-on-stone contact greatly reduces rutting. SMA is generally more expensive than a typical dense-graded HMA because it requires more durable aggregates, higher asphalt content and, typically, a modified asphalt binder.

Improved rut resistance and durability. Therefore, SMA is almost exclusively used for surface courses on high volume interstates ROADS


SMA Gap graded


Open-graded HMA

An open-graded HMA mixture uses opengraded aggregate and is designed to be water permeable (dense-graded and SMA mixes usually are not permeable) Typically result in smoother surfaces than dense-graded HMA. Their high air voids trap road noise and significantly reduce tire-road noise.

Dense vs Open graded mix



Nominal maximum aggregate size (NMAS). The largest sieve that retains some of the aggregate particles but generally not more than 10 percent by weight. We can define nominal maximum aggregate size as "one sieve size larger than the first sieve to retain more than 10 percent of the material"

Gradation Specification
Gradation and size are specified by a series of gradation control points Control points give the allowable percent passing (or retained) range for given sieve sizes. For instance, the gradation control points for a 0.5 inch (12.5 mm) mix specify a maximum of 58% passing and a minimum of 28% passing on the No. 8 (2.36 mm) sieve.


Control points
1st control point (minimum 100% passing). Defines the maximum aggregate size for a mix. By definition, 100% must pass this sieve size. 2nd control point set (90 to 100% passing). By definition, 90 to 100% must pass this sieve size. 3rd control point set (No. 8 (2.36 mm) sieve). Used to control the amount of sand sized particles in the mixture. The upper control point excludes overly fine mixtures, while the lower control point ensures enough sand sized particles are included to make a dense graded mixture. 4th control point set (No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve). Obtained from ASTM D 3515 as typical for dense graded mixtures which typically has 10 to 14% passing the No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve.


HMA is a rather complex material. It must resist deformation and cracking, be durable over time, resist water damage, provide a good tractive surface, and yet be inexpensive, readily made and easily placed


A HMA roadis it real??? Maui


Qualities of a well-made HMA mix

Deformation resistance (stability). HMA should not distort (rut) or deform (shove) under traffic loading. HMA deformation is related to one or more of the following: Aggregate surface and abrasion characteristics. Rounded particles tend to slip by one another causing HMA distortion under load while angular particles interlock with one another providing a good deformation resistant structure. Brittle particles cause mix distortion because they tend to break apart under agitation or load.

Aggregate gradation
Gradations with excessive fines (either naturally occurring or caused by excessive abrasion) cause distortion because the large amount of fine particles tend to push the larger particles apart and act as lubricating ball-bearings between these larger particles


Asphalt binder content

Excess asphalt binder content tends to lubricate and push aggregate particles apart making their rearrangement under load easier. The optimum asphalt binder content as determined by mix design should prevent this.

Asphalt binder viscosity

In the hot summer months, asphalt binder viscosity is at its lowest and the pavement will deform more easily under load. Specifying an asphalt binder with a minimum high temperature viscosity ensures enough high temperature viscosity.


Fatigue resistance
HMA should not crack when subjected to repeated loads over time. HMA fatigue cracking is related to asphalt binder content and stiffness. Higher asphalt binder contents will result in a mix that has a greater tendency to deform elastically (or at least deform) rather than fracture under repeated load. The use of an asphalt binder with a lower stiffness will increase a mixture's fatigue life by providing greater flexibility. However, the potential for rutting must also be considered in the selection of an asphalt binder. Note that fatigue resistance is also highly dependent upon the relationship between structural layer thickness and loading

HMA durability is related to one or more of the following o Asphalt binder film thickness around each aggregate particle. If the film thickness surrounding the aggregate particles is insufficient, it is possible that the aggregate may become accessible to water through holes in the film. Water will displace the asphalt film and asphalt-aggregate cohesion will be lost. This process is typically referred to as stripping.

Air voids
Excessive air voids (on the order of 8 percent or more in a dense-graded HMA) increase HMA permeability.
o HMA mix design seeks to adjust items such as asphalt content and aggregate gradation to produce design air voids of about 4 percent.