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SHRP 2 R06(B) [Active]

Evaluating Applications of Field Spectroscopy Devices to Fingerprint Commonly Used Construction Materials

  Project Data
Funds: $586,792
Staff Responsibility: Matt Miller
Research Agency: University of Connecticut
Principal Investigator: Maria Chrysochoou
Effective Date: 2/4/2009
Completion Date: 4/30/2014

Project snapshot. More details below.

(Project Number)
Impact on Practice
Product Status

Evaluation of portable quality-control technology to verify the unique fingerprint of common construction materials in the field. Data sets for the unique signatures of many common construction materials. The most successful generic procedures were expanded into draft AASHTO standard specifications for a method for fingerprinting chemical admixtures in freshly mixed portland cement concrete and a method for determining the metal content in paint.
The ability to confirm that the material being used onsite meets contract specifications will allow real-time verification of construction operations and prevent costly rework to replace noncompliant material. Field verification also means that contractors can quickly move to the next project operation without waiting for results of laboratory analysis to verify the type and quality of the material, saving both time and money.
Agency-oriented model specifications are being refined for each testing method. Pilot tests are in cooperation with two DOTs. The report is at  

Several transportation agencies have reported quality control issues with many of the materials routinely used in highway construction. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and Raman spectroscopy are material analysis techniques that have recently been used for transportation materials on a limited basis. They have been employed mostly for "fingerprinting" or identifying the presence of mixture components, such as deicing compounds or anti-strip agents, and occasionally for quantitative analyses, such as polymer content in asphalt and sulfate content of soils. The potential exists for much broader use of these technologies in quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC), including testing cements, paints, thermoplastics, epoxies, and asphalt emulsions. Using these new technologies, rather than traditional chemical tests, for such applications may allow for faster and more accurate QA/QC procedures.

The objective of this project was to identify and evaluate practical hand-held equipment—such as XRF, FTIR, or Raman-spectroscopy—for quantitative analyses of applications.

The spectroscopic techniques evaluated during this project include FT-IR spectroscopy, size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), XRF, and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Laboratory and in-situ tests of these techniques were applied to the following construction material categories: epoxy coating and adhesives, traffic paints, portland cement concrete with chemical admixtures and curing membranes, asphalt binders, emulsions, and mixes with polymer additives. The products of this research include an electronic library of signature spectra of the materials tested and proposed American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards of practice for the analysis of titanium content in traffic paints by XRF and for identification of chemical admixtures by ATR.

The results of Renewal Project R06B will be incorporated into an electronic resource for practitioners, known as the NDToolbox, which will provide information regarding recommended technologies for the detection of a particular deterioration. The NDToolbox is being created by SHRP 2 Renewal Project R06A: Nondestructive Testing to Identify Concrete Bridge Deck Deterioration.

Renewal Project R06B is one of seven follow-on projects to SHRP Renewal Project R06: A Plan for Developing High-Speed, Nondestructive Testing Procedures for Both Design Evaluation and Construction Inspection.

Status: This project is active.

Product Availability: Evaluating Applications of Field Spectroscopy Devices to Fingerprint Commonly Used Construction Materials, SHRP 2 Report S2-R06B-RW-1, was published in May 2013.  It is available as an Adobe PDF.  A printed version is available through the TRB bookstore.  An e-book version is available for purchase at Google, iTunes, and Amazon.  A fact sheet and a project brief are also available.


This page was last modified on March 19, 2014.

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