A heterogeneous micromechanical model for bituminous composites containing rigid and flexible particulates

Pouria Hajikarimi, Alireza Sadat Hosseini, Elham H. Fini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper uses a heterogeneous micromechanical model to evaluate the resistance to thermal cracking in bituminous composites containing granular particulates. Thermal cracking is mainly caused by temperature fluctuations leading to accumulated stress that exceeds the strength of the materials. The presence of various granular particulates significantly affects a material's strength and capacity to release stress. Here, we use a two-dimensional heterogeneous numerical finite element model to evaluate and predict the thermal cracking characteristics of bitumen containing granular particulates such as crumb rubber and taconite. To develop the model, randomly distributed polygons using the Delaunay triangulation method were used to represent taconite and crumb rubber inside a bitumen matrix. The elastic properties of taconite and crumb rubber were assigned to the particulates, and the viscoelastic properties of the bitumen were modeled using a Prony series by implementing a simple fractional viscoelastic model. The study results showed that the flexural creep stiffness and creep rate calculated by the model were in good agreement with the measurements of experiments: the maximum errors were 6.15% for bitumen containing crumb rubber and 13.72% for bitumen containing taconite. Considering that flexural creep stiffness and creep rate are commonly used as indicators of thermal cracking resistance, the newly developed heterogeneous micromechanical model can be used to evaluate the thermal cracking resistance of bituminous matrices containing granular particulates. The model was further used to study the effects of temperature, elasticity, and concentration of particulates on the cracking resistance of the bituminous matrix. For instance, it was found that introducing 16% particulates with an elasticity of 1.02 MPa (representing crumb rubber) to bitumen improves its critical cracking temperature from −25 °C to −29.3 °C. This model provides insights to help the design of bituminous composites with desired cracking resistance properties by incorporating the proper particulates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122102
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021


  • Biphasic modeling
  • Crumb rubber
  • Finite element
  • Heterogeneous
  • Taconite
  • Thermal cracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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