Research projects

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The following student and staff projects are currently being completed at USC, either directly under or associated with the APRP.

Comparing Layer Elastic and Published Finite Element Airport Pavement Responses

Undertaken by Warren Smith (undergraduate Civil Engineering student) under the supervision of Dr Greg White

This project was completed in late 2016 and published in 2017, with the aim to determine when layered elastic tools are adequate for airport pavement structural analysis and when the benefits of finite element tools are warranted. The research included comparison of published finite element model calculated pavement response to aircraft loads with equivalent layered elastic model calculated response, including the Australian design tool (APSDS).

Unfortunately, the quantity of well-defined finite element airport pavement modelling publications was restrictive and the analysis was subsequently limited in its scope and the findings were inconclusive. However, the project proved the viability of the concept and our imminent postdoctoral researcher is expected to complete a thorough analysis in collaboration with leading pavement finite element modellers from the University of Illinois, USA, in 2018.

Developing a Performance Based Airport Asphalt Specification

Undertaken by Greg White

This project includes the review of international literature on airport asphalt performance requirements and modification of the traditional prescriptive asphalt specification to provide a
performance-based specification for airport asphalt. The project has been supported by the asphalt industry, as well as AAA member airports and leading design firms.

The specification is complimented by example warranty schedules and other contractual documentation, as well as a detailed commentary on its development, detail and intent. Following a final review with asphalt contractors, the specification is expected to be published by the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) and will be revised after 2-3 projects are completed. To date, Proserpine Airport and Dubbo Airport have executed runway resurfacing contracts based on draft versions of the specification and Rockhampton airport is progressing on a similar basis.

Ungrooved Stone Mastic Asphalt for Runway Surfacing

Undertaken by Sean Jamieson (Master of Science in Civil Engineering) under the supervision of Dr Greg White and Dr Adrian MacCallum

The project will adapt the composition of Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA) used on Australian roads, as well as overseas airports, to develop the Australian airport SMA requirements within the performance-based airport asphalt specification. A number of ‘typical’ mixtures will be produced and tested with the support of the asphalt industry (AAPA members) to validate the mixture design requirements. An airport asphalt resurfacing project, scheduled for the second half of 2018, is currently being sought to allow a small field trial to be constructed and evaluated over time.

Sean will be full time at USC in 2018 and the findings of this project are expected to be available towards the end of 2018 and early in 2019.

Grooved Runway Asphalt Preservation Trials

Undertaken by Scott Wallace and Fraser McLachlan (undergraduate Civil Engineering students) under the supervision of Dr Greg White and with the support of Sunshine Coast Regional Council/Sunshine Coast Airport

Field trials of sand-filled and non-sand-filled preservation or enrichment products currently offered in Australia, applied on the same grooved runway surface at various application rates. Friction, texture and permeability were monitored over six months to determine the short and medium-term impact of the treatments. The sand-filled and non-sand-filled treatment types are compared, as well as the various products offered by Australian contractors. Future work will include an assessment of the long-term efficacy of the various treatments.

Falling Weight Deflectometer Survey for Airport Pavements

Undertaken by Andrew Barbeler (undergraduate Civil Engineering student) under the supervision of Dr Greg White

The first step in a planned series of projects relating to Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) use for airport pavements, with a focus on the sensitivity of ELMOD software to deflection results and other assumptions when estimating layer modulus and Pavement Classification Number (PCN). Guidance for the use of FWD for PCN determination will be available in early 2019.

Further research is expected to analyse the variability and reliability of FWD data and the use of work-energy to determine homogenous sections instead of maximum deflection and/or curvature.

Whole of Life Cost Comparison of Rigid and Flexible Airport Pavements

Undertaken by Rohan Kitchen (undergraduate Civil Engineering student) under the supervision of Dr Greg White

Project is estimating the whole of life cost of rigid and flexible airfield pavements constructed to accommodation various design aircraft for a range of subgrade conditions. The aim is to provide guidance to assist airports to assist in determining which pavement type is most appropriately. As well as assessing the sensitivity to various input parameters, the associated risks not considered in pavement thickness design (eg rigid pavement failure due to differential settlement and asphalt surface shear distress) are also being considered.

Reflection Cracking of Concrete Pavement Joints through Asphalt Overlays

Undertaken by Sahar Deilami (part-time PhD student) under the supervision of Dr Greg White and Associate Professor Christophe Gerber

Project will develop a laboratory test machine and protocol for measuring the propagation rate of reflection cracks from joints through asphalt overlays. Once developed, the testing will enable the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of different asphalt mixtures, strain alleviating membranes and geofabric interlayers.

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