Numerical study of the aggregate contact effect on the complex modulus of asphalt concrete

Zhifei Tan, Zhen Leng, Jiwang Jiang, Peng Cao, Denis Jelagin, Gaoyang Li, Anand Sreeram

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Asphalt concrete (AC) is a composite material consisting of binder, aggregates and air voids. The quantitative effect of aggregate-to-aggregate contact on the mechanical performance of AC is an important and complex issue, which has not been fully understood yet. To fill this gap, this study aims to characterize the aggregate contacts in AC and evaluate their effects on the viscoelastic behavior of AC through micromechanical finite element (FE) modeling. To this end, 3D microstructural models were generated through digital image processing (DIP) method and aggregate contacts were captured in the model via contact zone (CZ) elements. A CZ model was proposed and verified by a parametric study to identify the viscoelastic properties of CZ elements, while the viscoelastic properties of matrix phase were determined through laboratory tests. Steady-state dynamic (SSD) analysis was then conducted to investigate the macro-scale viscoelastic response of AC. It was found that the proposed modeling approach captures the measured response accurately. Accounting for aggregate contacts results in higher predicted AC dynamic moduli and lower phase angles, thus improving the agreement between modeling and experimental results. The numerical model developed in this study provides a promising approach for investigating the effect of aggregate contacts on the mechanical performance of AC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110342
JournalMaterials and Design
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Aggregate contacts
  • Complex modulus
  • Finite element analysis
  • Steady-state dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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