Representative volume element of asphalt pavement for electromagnetic measurements

Terhi Pellinen, Eeva Huuskonen-Snicker, Pekka Eskelinen, Pablo Olmos Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
165 Downloads (Pure)


The motivation for this study was to investigate the representative volume element (RVE) needed to correlate the nondestructive electromagnetic (EM) measurements with the conventional destructive asphalt pavement quality control measurements. A large pavement rehabilitation contract was used as the test site for the experiment. Pavement cores were drilled from the same locations where the stationary and continuous Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) measurements were obtained. Laboratory measurements included testing the bulk density of cores using two methods, the surface-saturated dry method and determining bulk density by dimensions. Also, Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) and the through specimen transmission configuration were employed at microwave frequencies to measure the reference dielectric constant of cores using two different footprint areas and therefore volume elements. The RVE for EM measurements turns out to be frequency dependent; therefore in addition to being dependent on asphalt mixture type and method of obtaining bulk density, it is dependent on the resolution of the EM method used. Then, although the average bulk property results agreed with theoretical formulations of higher core air void content giving a lower dielectric constant, for the individual cores there was no correlation for the VNA measurements because the volume element seizes deviated. Similarly, GPR technique was unable to capture the spatial variation of pavement air voids measured from the 150-mm drill cores. More research is needed to determine the usable RVE for asphalt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
JournalJournal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • asphalt
  • bulk density
  • dielectric constant
  • permittivity
  • vector network analyzer

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