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Fundamental Properties

WRI studies asphalt pavement materials from nano scale to
field scale.
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Fundamental Properties of Asphalts and Modified Asphalts, III

The challenge of fundamental highway materials research is to distinguish asphalt characteristics not being distinguished today. Under contract to the Federal Highway Administration, WRI is continuing the fundamental research that has contributed to the basic understanding of asphalt chemistry and physical properties, additives, asphalt and aggregate interactions, and the effects of these on pavement performance.  

The goals of this research are Prediction and Selection.  We seek (1) to provide the fundamental scientific basis for predicting and improving the performance of asphalt pavements and (2) to develop the tools, tests and models to ensure that the best pavement materials for the conditions make it into the road.  WRI research seeks to identify:

  • What characteristics cause asphalt pavements to fail
  • What characteristics contribute to long pavement life
  • What characteristics can be measured
  • What critical performance measurements are not being measured now

WRI works as part of an active asphalt research community. Through the FHWA, WRI actively solicits input from stakeholders such as transportation officials, contractors, asphalt and additive producers, researchers, and Expert Task Groups to identify needs and help determine research objectives. Collaboration with researchers on topics such as continuum damage, micro-mechanics, fracture mechanics, contact mechanics will also be conducted.  And technical capability efforts, which means getting new knowledge and methods to those who can benefit from it, are a critical component of WRI’s Fundamental Properties of Asphalt and Modified Asphalts program.

FHWA Focus Areas

WRI Focus Areas


Effect of the environment on the fundamental properties of asphalt

Influence of fundamental properties of asphalt on mixture fracture properties and permanent deformation (rutting) properties

  • Thermal Cracking 
  • Permanent Deformation (Rutting)

Fundamentals of aggregate and asphalt-aggregate chemistry, interactions, and energetics 


Advanced structural and performance prediction models and laboratory tests at the molecular (nano) scale

Fundamental and performance-based laboratory and field tests 

Test section experimental design 

Practitioner education through symposia and conferences such as the Petersen Asphalt Research Conference and Pavement Performance Symposium 
Environmental StewardshipWarm Mix Asphalt (WMA)

Contact :
Thomas F. Turner
Asphalt and Petroleum Technologies

(307) 721-2415
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