Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Zhanping You


As an important Civil Engineering material, asphalt concrete (AC) is commonly used to build road surfaces, airports, and parking lots. With traditional laboratory tests and theoretical equations, it is a challenge to fully understand such a random composite material. Based on the discrete element method (DEM), this research seeks to develop and implement computer models as research approaches for improving understandings of AC microstructure-based mechanics. In this research, three categories of approaches were developed or employed to simulate microstructures of AC materials, namely the randomly-generated models, the idealized models, and image-based models. The image-based models were recommended for accurately predicting AC performance, while the other models were recommended as research tools to obtain deep insight into the AC microstructure-based mechanics. A viscoelastic micromechanical model was developed to capture viscoelastic interactions within the AC microstructure. Four types of constitutive models were built to address the four categories of interactions within an AC specimen. Each of the constitutive models consists of three parts which represent three different interaction behaviors: a stiffness model (force-displace relation), a bonding model (shear and tensile strengths), and a slip model (frictional property). Three techniques were developed to reduce the computational time for AC viscoelastic simulations. It was found that the computational time was significantly reduced to days or hours from years or months for typical three-dimensional models. Dynamic modulus and creep stiffness tests were simulated and methodologies were developed to determine the viscoelastic parameters. It was found that the DE models could successfully predict dynamic modulus, phase angles, and creep stiffness in a wide range of frequencies, temperatures, and time spans. Mineral aggregate morphology characteristics (sphericity, orientation, and angularity) were studied to investigate their impacts on AC creep stiffness. It was found that aggregate characteristics significantly impact creep stiffness. Pavement responses and pavement-vehicle interactions were investigated by simulating pavement sections under a rolling wheel. It was found that wheel acceleration, steadily moving, and deceleration significantly impact contact forces. Additionally, summary and recommendations were provided in the last chapter and part of computer programming codes wree provided in the appendixes.