UTA engineer assessing use of lasers to measure microtexture of aggregates in asphalt and concrete mixtures

Updated May 23, 2016
Photo courtesy of UT Arlington.Photo courtesy of UT Arlington.

Roger Walker, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), is working with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M to assess whether scanning lasers can accurately measure the microtexture of aggregates used in asphalt and concrete mixtures, according to a news release from UTA.

The two-year, $671,011 project is funded through the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which currently uses camera-based systems to assess aggregate characteristics.

“These lasers will enable TxDOT to more accurately measure the microtexture of the aggregates,” Walker said in a statement. “The laser system also will measure aggregate shape and angularity, offering important insights into which materials and mixes work best on Texas roads. This could ultimately affect sustainability, cost, and safety.”

Walker’s project will determine the viability of replacing the current camera system with lasers. The data generated in the study will help with the development of new adhesive systems that make binding asphalt and concrete better and longer lasting.

Hong Jiang, chair and Nedderman professor of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, says Walker’s work is representative of how UTA is advancing sustainable urban communities and data-driven discovery under the Strategic Plan.

“Dr. Walker’s collaboration with TxDOT uses reliable data to make long-term decisions on our roads,” Jiang said in a statement. “This research could lead to a much more efficient and less costly way in which to test pavement.”

UTA has been awarded more than $19 million in TxDOT contracts research grants during the last two-plus decades, including the following:

  • Under a TxDOT grant, Anand Puppala, associate dean of research in the College of Engineering and civil engineering professor, is using giant lightweight geofoam blocks to strengthen the earth beneath roads.
  • Under another TxDOT grant, Sahadat Hossain, civil engineering professor, is installing large, recycled plastic pins to shore up clay soils on slopes that support some Texas highways.
  • Under another TxDOT grant, Stefan Romanoschi, civil engineering associate professor, built a pavement testing machine that tests recycled pavement durability.

Walker’s pavement testing collaboration with TTI began in the 1980s, and he has brought in more than $9 million in research funding during his tenure at UTA.