High Performance Aggregates for Sustainable Road Pavements

The scarcity of natural aggregates is a global problem acknowledged in a 2014 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). [1] The problem is exacerbated by non-sustainable current practice of aggregate exploitation.  One approach to alleviate the impending aggregate shortage is the development of artificial aggregates from marginal materials. For the use in asphalt pavements, specifically designed aggregates further offer the ability to improve the connected porosity of special porous pavements. This collaborative PhD project between Prof. Dr. Christoph Müller from ETH Zurich and the Empa laboratory for high performance ceramics which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation uses simulations and additive manufacturing to develop artificial aggregates from marginal materials.

Project Period

2015 - 2020

Visualization of a DEM simulation with the jacks shape. Even though individual aggregates can be seen tumbling from the top of the cylinder structure the structure will never collapse. This is due to the friction between the sufficiently long arms of the jacks which leads to an interlocking of these aggregates.
Aggregate packing reconstructed from the thermography images
Artificial aggregate made from ceramic using additive manufacturing