Material Thermal Input for Iowa Materials for the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide

Project Status


Start Date: 01/01/2006
End Date: 06/30/2007


Principal Investigator(s)


  • Iowa Department of Transportation


About the Research

The present research project was designed to determine thermal properties, such as coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and thermal conductivity, of Iowa concrete pavement materials. These properties are required as input values by the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG). In this project, a literature review was conducted to determine the factors that affect thermal properties of concrete and the existing prediction equations for CTE and thermal conductivity of concrete. CTE tests were performed on various lab and field samples of portland cement concrete (PCC) at the Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University. The variations due to the test procedure, the equipment used, and the consistency of field batch materials were evaluated. The test results showed that the CTE variations due to test procedure and batch consistency were less than 5%, and the variation due to the different equipment was less than 15%. Concrete CTE values were significantly affected by different types of coarse aggregate. The CTE values of Iowa concrete made with limestone+graval, quartzite, dolomite, limestone+dolomite, and limestone were 7.27, 6.86, 6.68, 5.83, and 5.69 microstrain/oF (13.08, 12.35, 12.03, 10.50, and 10.25 microstrain/oC), respectively, which were all higher than the default value of 5.50 microstrain/oF in the MEPDG program. The thermal conductivity of a typical Iowa PCC mix and an asphalt cement concrete (ACC) mix (both with limestone as coarse aggregate) were tested at Concrete Technology Laboratory in Skokie, Illinois. The thermal conductivity was 0.77 Btu/hr?ft?oF (1.33 W/m?K) for PCC and 1.21 Btu/hr?ft?oF (2.09 W/m?K) for ACC, which are different from the default values (1.25 Btu/hr?ft?oF or 2.16 W/m?K for PCC and 0.67 Btu/hr?ft?oF or 1.16 W/m?K for ACC) in the MEPDG program. The investigations onto the CTE of ACC and the effects of concrete materials (such as cementitious material and aggregate types) and mix proportions on concrete thermal conductivity are recommended to be considered in future studies.