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Title: Discrete element modelling of permanent pavement deformation in granular materials
Author: Cai, Wei
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2015
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The permanent deformation of a pavement due to vehicle load is one of the important factors affecting the design life as well as the maintenance cost of a pavement. For the purpose of obtaining a cost-effective design, it is advisable to predict the traffic-loadinduced permanent pavement deformation. The permanent deformation in pavements (i.e. rutting) can be classified into three categories, including the wearing of the asphalt layers, compaction, and shear deformations. In the present study, discrete element analyses have been performed to predict the permanent deformation of a pavement when subjected to moving wheel loads. Note that the wearing of the asphalt layers has been disregarded. DEM biaxial test simulations have been carried out in terms of both unbonded and bonded granular materials. The typical stress-strain response, as well as the volumetric strain development, have been reproduced, in qualitative agreement with the experimental results. The factors affecting the mechanical behaviour of granular materials have been investigated, e.g. particle stiffness, sample compaction and parallel bond strength. In addition, the elastic properties, initial yield stress, strength parameters and so on have been analysed. These compression tests provided guidance for the selection of the particle parameters for the subsequent pavement simulation. The permanent deformation in unbonded pavements was represented under moving wheel loads, and proved to be qualitatively consistent with the laboratory tests. The initial self-weight stress had a significant effect on rutting. When the initial gravity stress was relatively high, both shakedown and surface ratchetting phenomena were observed for different loading levels. However, the accumulation of permanent deformation was continual for pavements with low gravity stress, even if the wheel pressure was small. Other factors affecting the rutting have been taken into consideration, e.g. specimen preparation, interparticle friction, etc. In the case of the single-layered pavement, permanent deformation ceased after the first wheel pass. Plastic deformation increased with the decrease in the self-weight stress. For the double layered pavement, the permanent deformation continually increased with wheel passes, probably owing to compaction of the bottom unbound layer. The pavement shakedown phenomenon was not observed prior to wheel pass 300. The permanent deformation increased augmentation of wheel pressure as well as decrease in the sample density and upper layer thickness. The residual stresses in both vertical and horizontal directions can be obtained using the measurement circle. For all the pavements in the current simulations, the vertical residual stress is nearly always zero, consistent with the equilibrium condition. In the case of the unbonded pavement, the large horizontal residual stress depends on the high initial gravity stress, instead of high wheel pressure or wheel pass number. For the single-layered pavement, the peak of the horizontal residual stress was observed near the pavement surface. The residual stress rises with the augmentation of the wheel pass number and the wheel pressure. In the double-layered pavement, the residual stresses are discontinuous at the interface between different pavement layers. The peak appears near the pavement surface and increases with the reduction in the upper layer thickness as well as the rise in wheel passes and wheel pressure. Nevertheless, residual stress is not apparent in the granular base. The probability density distribution was investigated in terms of the contact and bond forces. For the normal contact force, a peak generally appeared at small contact forces, followed by a drastic decrease and, after that, the probability density progressively approached zero. For the tangential contact force as well as the bond forces, in general, a peak of the probability distribution was observed at small contact forces, and then a sharp drop followed from the two flanks of the peak point. Finally, there was a gradual decrease until the probability density decayed to zero. The factors, e.g. pavement layer, wheel pass number and wheel pressure, mainly affect the probability distribution of the small contact or bond forces. For both single- and double-layered pavements, the absolute extrema of the bond forces in the top layer increased with the augmentation of the wheel pass number and the wheel pressure. For the unbonded pavement, the sliding contact ratio was studied and it was significantly affected by the pavement layer, initial gravity stress and sample compaction. The distribution of the pavement particle displacements were demonstrated. In the unbonded pavement, factors, such as wheel pressure and initial gravity, not only affect the distribution of the relatively large particle displacements but also increase the magnitude of the particle displacements. The directions of the large displacement vectors are diverse as the large gravity acceleration is assigned to the particles but are almost downward when the self-weight stress is small. In the single- or double layered pavement, factors, such as wheel pass number and wheel pressure, merely increase the values of the particle displacements. The distribution of the displacements is hardly affected. For the single-layered pavement, the large displacements were observed near the pavement surface and their directions are almost contrary to the movement direction of the wheel. In the double-layered pavement, relatively large particle displacements are widely distributed in the pavement. Their directions are in an almost vertical direction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TE Highway engineering. Roads and pavements