Performance-Based Mix Design of Porous Friction Courses

Porous friction courses (PFC), which are sometimes termed permeable friction courses, have been used in the United States for many years. These mixtures are desirable because of their open aggregate gradations and resulting high air void contents that provide functionality in terms of permeability to quickly remove water from the surface of the roadway, thus reducing the potential for vehicles to hydroplane. These PFC mixture characteristics can also provide additional environmental benefits by reducing the charge in pollutants in storm water runoff and additional safety benefits by reducing splash, spray, and glare. These characteristics also improve pavement marking visibility and skid resistance in wet weather and reduce traffic noise. Despite their many benefits, the use of PFC mixtures has been limited in part because of cost, a lack of a standard mixture design method, premature failure by raveling or stripping, and loss of functionality by clogging with debris. When PFC mixtures become clogged, they suffer a loss of permeability that compromises the primary benefit of these mixtures and can lead to premature failure. Recent improvements in Europe have produced mixtures with higher air void contents that maintain their functionality through periodic maintenance with special equipment. Other recent research has shown environmental benefits from PFC mixtures due to their ability to filter pollutants transported in waste water runoff, although maintenance of adequate functionality is required. In addition to the need to develop improved maintenance methods, the performance of PFC mixtures can also benefit from the development of a standardized mixture design method that balances durability in terms of resistance to premature failure by raveling or stripping and functionality in terms of both permeability and noise reduction. This new design method should be based on the latest technology available, including recent developments in Europe, and make use of the Superpave gyratory compactor (SGC) for producing laboratory samples. As part of the mixture design method, laboratory performance characteristics must be accurately measured to assure the primary functionality benefit of PFC. The multitude of test methods and equipment available often give different results. Therefore, there is a need to evaluate and recommend standard methods for mix design, performance testing, and quality control of PFC mixtures. The objective of this research is to develop a performance-based mix design method for PFC mixtures. For purposes of this research, a PFC is defined as having a typical layer thickness of 0.75 to 1.25 inches and a design air void content above 15%. The mix design method shall be based on the use of the Superpave gyratory compactor and shall include (a) selection of materials, i.e., binder, aggregate, additives, etc.; (b) consideration of climate and traffic; and (c) laboratory performance tests and criteria for properties related to rutting, raveling, cracking, moisture susceptibility, permeability, noise reduction, and friction, to achieve a balance in the mix design between PFC durability and functionality.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 01-55

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Harrigan, Edward

  • Performing Organizations:

    Auburn University

    National Center for Asphalt Technology
    310 Sanford Hall
    Auburn, Alabama  United States  36849-5131
  • Principal Investigators:

    Watson, Donald

  • Start Date: 20140731
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160730
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37724

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01545076
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 01-55
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 25 2014 1:01AM