Research Pays Off: The Asphalt Binder Cracking Device Test

Low-temperature thermal cracking is a major type of asphalt pavement failure. State departments of transportation (DOTs) allocate significant financial resources to repair or replace cracked pavements. Properly grading asphalt binders for the expected climatic environment, however, can minimize premature pavement failure from thermal cracking.

To enhance the grading process, an asphalt binder cracking device (ABCD) test was developed under National Cooperative Highway Research Program–Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) Project 99 that directly determines the low-temperature cracking potential of asphalt binders in field-like conditions.

The ABCD test was applied on the asphalt binders used in three test pavements and the correlations between the crack severity of the three test roads were consistently better with the ABCD cracking temperatures than with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO’s) specification M320 critical temperatures.

Quantifying the benefits of the ABCD test in dollar amounts will require more extensive applications of the test; nonetheless, the adoption of the ABCD test as an AASHTO provisional standard indicates the potential for payoff.

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