Towards Sustainable Pavements: Engineered Agricultural Waste for Alleviation of Thermal Cracking, Phase 1

Cold winter temperatures that are typical for the Kansas' continental climate are likely to produce detrimental shrinkage cracking of pavements. Thermally induced contraction of pavements is restrained either by the friction of the sub-grade and/or by the reinforcing steel. The pavement cracks if the restraint produces sufficiently large tensile stresses. The cracks are usually parallel to each other and they appear at a regular spacing, thus exhibiting a particular length scale. They form across the entire width of pavements, thus negatively affecting the ride quality. In addition, cracks also facilitate infiltration of water into sub-grade soils, which causes a rapid deterioration of the pavement structure. Frequent and costly repairs of cracked pavements necessitate the engineering solution, which will increase the resilience of pavements while bringing along a number of sustainability benefits. Kansas is strategically located in the midst of Great Plains, one of the largest wheat growing regions in the world. The abundant wheat straw has traditionally been burned off the fields or tilled back into the soil in preparation for the next planting season. These disposal methods contribute to air pollution and global warming. Ron Madl, director of the Kansas State University Wheat Research Center described the benefits of the straw removal as follows: "Straw removal increases soil temperature in spring, improves soil drying rate, is helpful to low-till or no-till farming, decreases combine operating costs and diminishes the risk of disease and insect transfer into the next season". The use of renewable materials such as wheat straw to reinforce pavements is likely to bring a number of multiple sustainability benefits including: 1) economic, 2) environmental, and 3) social benefits. Economic benefits are due to a decreased maintenance costs. Environmental benefits are due to the use of benign renewable materials, decreased pollution and decreased global warming that are otherwise caused by frequent repairs of thermal cracks and non-sustainable agricultural practices. Social benefits are in that the proposed beneficial use of wheat straw provides additional income to farmers that will be pumped back into the economy. In addition, significantly decreased maintenance operations lessen traffic disruptions, thus providing better connectivity to rural population. Overall, the engineering use of agricultural waste is likely to give a boost to the rural economy. To this end, and in the spirit of the theme of the KS-UTC: "Sustainability and Safety of Rural Transportation Systems and Infrastructure", we propose to conduct an investigation about he feasibility of use of wheat straw for alleviation of thermal cracking of pavements.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Kansas State University Transportation Center

    Kansas State University
    Department of Civil Engineering
    Manhattan, KS  United States  66506
  • Project Managers:

    Stokes, Robert

  • Performing Organizations:

    Kansas State University Transportation Center

    Kansas State University
    Department of Civil Engineering
    Manhattan, KS  United States  66506
  • Principal Investigators:

    Rasheed, Hayder

    Peric, Dunja

  • Start Date: 20110101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20120630
  • Source Data: RiP Project 28017

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01463705
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Kansas State University Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: KSUTC-11-1
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:28PM