Multiscale finite element analysis of layer interface effects on cracking in semi-flexible pavements at different temperatures

Xing Cai, Prabin Kumar Ashish, Pai Zheng, Zhen Leng, Minghui Gong, Jun Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper presents comprehensive research work on the crack initiation behavior of Semi Flexible Pavements (SFP) with the help of a one-way coupled multiscale modelling approach. The study focuses on elucidating the influence of layer interface conditions on potential cracking patterns under different temperature conditions. By integrating material properties at both local (mixture) and global (pavement) scales using a local de-homogenization approach, the interlocking effect was addressed within the asphalt binder's mesoscale properties. CT-image based mesostructure was employed to reconstruct the Representative Volume Element (RVE). Cohesive Zone Model (CZM) was utilized to simulate cracking initiation within the RVEs, with simulation results validated against practical engineering inspections. Additionally, a potential macroscopic failure index was introduced for SFP. It was found that the typical macroscopic failure indexes utilized for AC pavement may not be suitable for SFP due to the higher degree of heterogeneity. Analysis showed that SFP layer's coarse aggregate and cement grout at the bottom may experience compressive stress, while asphalt binder beneath the tire load may face high tensile stresses. Regardless of the interface conditions, top-down cracking was found to be the dominating failure mode in SFP. Besides, the vulnerable area in bonded interface SFP shifts from under tire load to the adjacent area with the rise in pavement temperature, while bottom-up cracking may appear only in unbonded interface SFP under low temperature conditions. Subsequent analysis demonstrated that top-down cracking is prominent in bonded interface SFP, especially at higher temperatures, compared to unbonded interface SFP. It is expected that critical observations for SFP highlighted above will certainly help in understanding critical failure modes and, hence, designing and constructing durable SFP structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105008
JournalMechanics of Materials
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • Cohesive zone model
  • Cracking behavior
  • Failure analysis
  • Layer interface
  • Multiscale modeling
  • Semi-flexible pavement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials


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