Abstract: This study aims to characterise the healing properties of asphalt binders at different damage levels. The healing and the damage levels were quantified by crack length (CL) in binder samples generated by rotational shear fatigue loads in strain-controlled dynamic shear rheometer (DSR) tests. For comparison, the healing was also characterised by the commonly used material parameters including pseudo shear stiffness (S) and dissipated pseudo strain energy (DPSE). A normalized healing index was formulated using the above three parameters, respectively. A healing test of polymer-modified bitumen was designed based on DSR including a strain-controlled time sweep test plus a rest duration and followed by another strain-controlled time sweep test. The healing tests were performed at different rest start times (5min, 10min and 20min), rest durations (5s, 10s, 0.5min, 1min, 2min, 5min, 10min, 20min, and 40min), and amplitudes of the shear strain (5%, 7%, and 10%) at 20 °C and 10 Hz. Results show that the CL-based healing index is a fundamental and accurate parameter to evaluate the healing rate and healing potential of the bitumen. DPSE-based healing index is applicable only when the energy is mainly dissipated to generate cracks. Healing is underestimated when characterised using S or DPSE-based healing indices. Healing index increases due to the advance of rest duration or the decrease of the damage level, and the healing rate can be essentially modelled by Ramberg-Osgood model. Higher damage levels (introduced by higher load levels or longer loading time) can effectively decrease the binders’ healing potentials when the binders are at the relatively low damaged levels. The healing potential becomes low when the material is at severe damage state, thus will remain at that low levels even though the damage level increases.
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