The National Academies

NCHRP IDEA 20-30/IDEA 044 [Completed (IDEA)]

Real Time Microwave Asphalt Pavement Quality Sensor
[ NCHRP 20-30 (NCHRP-IDEA) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Inam Jawed

This project developed a technique using microwave sensors installed on a pavement roller for real-time measurement of asphalt pavement density. Two microwave antennas, one in the front and the other at the back of a paving roller, measure microwave signals reflected from asphalt, and the difference between the signals is correlated with the degree of compaction of asphalt pavement (Figure 1). Following laboratory evaluation of the interaction of microwaves with asphalt, a prototype system was designed and field tested. The field tests verified a relationship between asphalt pavement density and microwave signal variance. The signal variance decreased with increasing asphalt density, but increased rather abruptly near the point of optimum compaction. These characteristics can be used to develop a non-contact method for a real-time assessment of the degree of compaction of asphalt pavements. However, additional system refinement and field evaluation are necessary to make this technology fully implementable. The final report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS # PB2000-10340).


The final report for this IDEA project can be found at:

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