Peer-reviewed publication: Mechanistic Approach to Pavement-Vehicle Interaction and Its Impact on Life-Cycle Assessment

December 15, 2012

The accuracy and the comprehensiveness of any pavement life-cycle assessment are limited by the ability of the supporting science to quan- tify the environmental impact. Pavement–vehicle interaction represents a significant knowledge gap that has important implications for many pavement life-cycle assessment studies. In the current study, the authors assumed that a mechanistic model that linked pavement structure and properties to fuel consumption could contribute to closing the uncer- tainty gap of pavement–vehicle interaction in life-cycle assessment of pavements. The simplest mechanistic pavement model, a Bernoulli– Euler beam on a viscoelastic foundation subjected to a moving load, was considered. Wave propagation properties derived from falling weight deflectometer time history data of FHWA’s Long-Term Pavement Performance program were used to calibrate top-layer and substrate moduli for various asphalt and concrete systems. The model was vali- dated against recorded deflection data. The mechanistic response was used to determine gradient force and rolling resistance to link deflection to vehicle fuel consumption. A comparison with independent field data provided realistic order-of-magnitude estimates of fuel consumption related to pavement–vehicle interaction as predicted by the model. MORE