Cracking resistance of thin-bonded overlays using fracture test, numerical simulations and early field performance

Academic Article


  • Thin-bonded bituminous overlays are becoming an increasingly popular pavement maintenance treatment, which can be used to restore smoothness, seal and renew the pavement surface and increase skid resistance. Thin-bonded overlays (TBOs) are constructed using a specialised type of paving equipment called a spray paver’. A spray paver combines the operation of applying a tack coat and laying down asphalt concrete in a single pass. This allows for the application of a high rate of polymer-modified asphalt emulsion tack coat. Due to reduced thickness, cracking distress is more of a concern in this type of system. This paper describes a new approach for the evaluation of the cracking performance of TBO systems through fracture mechanics-based testing of laboratory and field specimens. Computer simulations and early field performance data are also used in the evaluation. This study is conducted in the context of three field projects which encompass seven different pavement test sections. The test sections allowed a number of variables to be studied, including type and application rate of tack coat emulsion and type of hot-mix asphalt gradation structure (gap graded vs. dense graded). Comparisons are also made between overlays constructed using spray paver and conventional paving process. All seven sections were computationally simulated to evaluate their performance in the context of thermal and reflective cracking potential. Fairly good agreement is observed between laboratory tests, computer simulations and field performance data. The results indicate that good thermal and reflective cracking resistance are expected from TBOs. Furthermore, it was observed that the cracking performance of TBOs depends on the type of gradation for the overlay mixture and the tack coat emulsion type and its application rate.
  • Authors

  • Ahmed, Sarfraz
  • Dave, Eshan
  • Buttlar, William G
  • Exline, Marvin K
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 1, 2013
  • Has Subject Area


  • compact tension test
  • cracking
  • field performance
  • fracture energy
  • numerical simulations
  • thin-bonded overlay
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 540
  • End Page

  • 552
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 6