Relating Ndesign to Field Compaction: A Case Study in Minnesota

Tianhao Yan, Mugurel Turos, Chelsea Bennett, John Garrity, Mihai Marasteanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


High field density helps in increasing the durability of asphalt pavements. In a current research effort, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) have been working on designing asphalt mixtures with higher field densities. One critical issue is the determination of the Ndesign values for these mixtures. The physical meaning of Ndesign is discussed first. Instead of the traditional approach, in which Ndesign represents a measure of rutting resistance, Ndesign is interpreted as an indication of the compactability of mixtures. The field density data from some recent Minnesota pavement projects are analyzed. A clear negative correlation between Ndesign and field density level is identified, which confirms the significant effect of Ndesign on the compactability and consequently on the field density of mixtures. To achieve consistency between the laboratory and field compaction, it is proposed that Ndesign should be determined to reflect the real field compaction effort. A parameter called the equivalent number of gyrations to field compaction effort (Nequ) is proposed to quantify the field compaction effort, and the Nequ values for some recent Minnesota pavement projects are calculated. The results indicate that the field compaction effort for the current Minnesota projects evaluated corresponds to about 30 gyrations of gyratory compaction. The computed Nequ is then used as the Ndesign for a Superpave 5 mixture placed in a paving project, for which field density data and laboratory performance test results are obtained. The data analysis shows that both the field density and pavement performance of the Superpave 5 mixture are significantly improved compared with the traditional mixtures. The results indicate that Nequ provides a reasonable estimation of field compaction effort, and that Nequ can be used as the Ndesign for achieving higher field densities.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-201
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Minnesota Department of Transportation research grant 1003325 WO#106.

Publisher Copyright:
© National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2021.


  • Asphalt mix design
  • Field compaction effort
  • Field density
  • Gyratory compaction
  • N


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