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Frontiers of Structural and Civil Engineering

Front. Struct. Civ. Eng.    2018, Vol. 12 Issue (2) : 215-221
Application of semi-analytical finite element method to analyze the bearing capacity of asphalt pavements under moving loads
Pengfei LIU(), Dawei WANG, Frédéric OTTO, Markus OESER
Institute of Highway Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen D52074, Germany
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To facilitate long term infrastructure asset management systems, it is necessary to determine the bearing capacity of pavements. Currently it is common to conduct such measurements in a stationary manner, however the evaluation with stationary loading does not correspond to reality a tendency towards continuous and high speed measurements in recent years can be observed. The computational program SAFEM was developed with the objective of evaluating the dynamic response of asphalt under moving loads and is based on a semi-analytic element method. In this research project SAFEM is compared to commercial finite element software ABAQUS and field measurements to verify the computational accuracy. The computational accuracy of SAFEM was found to be high enough to be viable whilst boasting a computational time far shorter than ABAQUS. Thus, SAFEM appears to be a feasible approach to determine the dynamic response of pavements under dynamic loads and is a useful tool for infrastructure administrations to analyze the pavement bearing capacity.

Keywords semi-analytical finite element method      bearing capacity      asphalt pavements      moving loads      dynamic response     
Corresponding Authors: Pengfei LIU   
Online First Date: 12 June 2017    Issue Date: 23 April 2018
 Cite this article:   
Pengfei LIU,Dawei WANG,Frédéric OTTO, et al. Application of semi-analytical finite element method to analyze the bearing capacity of asphalt pavements under moving loads[J]. Front. Struct. Civ. Eng., 2018, 12(2): 215-221.
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Pengfei LIU
Dawei WANG
Frédéric OTTO
Markus OESER
Fig.1  Pavement structure geometry and load mode [13]
Fig.2  Schematic illustration of loading conditions in SAFEM [12]
Fig.3  (a) The test track at BASt [1820]; (b) top view with loading wheel path.
layer thickness (mm) µ E (MPa) density (t/mm3)
Surface course 40 0.35 11150 2.377 E-09
Binder course 50 0.35 10435 2.448 E-09
Asphalt base course 110 0.35 6893 2.301 E-09
Gravel base layer 150 0.49 157.8 2.400 E-09
Frost protection layer 570 0.49 125.7 2.400 E-09
Sub-grade 2000 0.49 98.9 2.400 E-09
Tab.1  material properties and thickness of pavement layers.
Fig.4  Geometric data and tires of the truck S23 [17]
Fig.5  Automatic mesh generation for the test track (a) SAFEM; (b) ABAQUS
Fig.6  The schematic illustration of simulation process with the moving load in ABAQUS (a) Step time= 0, increment=0; (b) Step time= 0.3024?s, increment=105; (c) Step time= 0.59904?s, increment=208; (d) Loading area when the step time is 0.3024?s
Fig.7  Surface deflections from ABAQUS and SAFEM
measurement ABAQUS difference SAFEM difference
strain along the traffic direction on the bottom of the asphalt base course [μm/m] 81.5 87.0 6.75% 86.3 5.88%
vertical tensile stress on the top of the gravel base layer [MPa] -0.0556 -0.0316 -43.1% -0.0283 -49.1%
Tab.2  Comparison of results from field measurements, ABAQUS and SAFEM regarding the strains and stresses at critical points.
elements 160016 2958
nodes 274122 6167
computational time (h) 19.22 0.92
Tab.3  Comparison between ABAQUS and SAFEM regarding elements, nodes and computational time.
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