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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor 1

Zhanping You

Committee Member 1

Patricia A. Heiden

Committee Member 2

Jacob Hiller

Committee Member 3

Qingli Dai


The asphalt foaming techniques have been used over the last couple of decades as an alternative to the traditional method of preparing asphalt mixtures. Based on positive feedback from the industry, this study was initiated to explore and evaluate the performance of the Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) mixture produced through a foaming process using physical and chemical foaming agents, which are ethanol and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), respectively. The success of this project may lead to new theories and provide an environmentally friendly technique to produce asphalt mixtures. This may advance the understanding of the foaming process and improve the performance of WMA to support sustainable development. Theoretically, ethanol can function in the same manner as water but requires less energy to foam due to its lower boiling point, 78˚C. During the asphalt foaming process, numerous bubbles were generated by the vaporized ethanol, which significantly increased the volume of the asphalt binder, hence the coating potential of aggregates improves. The sodium bicarbonate was incorporated to enhance the quantity of bubbles and its stability.

Therefore, understanding foaming agents, their solubility, chemical reactions, chemical function groups and rheological properties of the foamed binder are essential to help control the foam structure and final properties of the foamed WMA mixture. In order to understand the overall performance of newly developed foaming WMA, this material was evaluated for moisture susceptibility, rutting potential, and resistance to fracture and thermal cracking. The coatability, workability and compactability of foamed asphalt mixtures during production were also evaluated. Based on the results, it was found that the newly proposed foaming WMA has high potential to promote sustainable development by lowering the energy consumption and impacts on the environment. The ethanol is efficient in lowering the viscosity of asphalt binders, enhancing the workability, and having a higher expulsion rate from the foamed binder compared to water as a foaming agent. The addition of foaming agents to the asphalt binder has also lowered the activation energy of the asphalt binder, which has high potential in lowering the energy demand during production processes. The foamed WMA mixture prepared at 100°C was found to have behavior comparable with the control Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) prepared at 155°C in terms of coatability, workability and compactability. Based on the mixture performance tests, the foamed WMA has a comparable or better performance than the HMA in terms of resistance to moisture damage, permanent deformation, fracture cracking and thermal cracking. The application of nano-hydrated lime is efficient in enhancing the aggregate coatability and improving the bearing capacity of asphalt pavement to lower the rutting potential and moisture susceptibility of foamed WMA mixtures. Limitations for each of the related parameters are also reported in this dissertation for the lab production of foamed WMA mixtures using ethanol and NaHCO3 as foaming agents. The specified values were made based on the binder test, service characteristics and performance of foamed WMA mixtures in order to yield a comparable or better performance than the control HMA. Field validations should be carried out to understand the overall performance and durability of the proposed foaming WMA.