Microstructure evaluation of polymer-modified bitumen by image analysis using two-dimensional fast Fourier transform

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Romain Balieu
Xiaohu Lu
Niki Kringos

Aiming to quantitatively evaluate the microstructure of polymer-modified bitumen (PMB) for roads, this paper employs the two-dimensional fast Fourier transform (2D-FFT) to process the microscopic and numerical images of four PMBs. The related derivative parameters, including the characteristic frequency and wavelength, are computed from the 2D-FFT power spectrum. The results show that the absence/presence of a characteristic frequency (range) on the power spectrum can indicate the lack/existence of the corresponding periodical structural pattern(s) in the original PMB image. A lower characteristic frequency usually represents a coarser PMB microstructure while a higher one implies a finer PMB microstructure. The 2D-FFT method is thus valid for differentiating various PMB microstructures. The proposed method is also capable of quantitatively evaluating the effects of temperature and the temporal evolution of PMB microstructure during phase separation. As the separation continues, the decrease of characteristic frequency indicates the coarsening process of a PMB microstructure. Additionally, the numerical reproduction of the observed phase separation is evaluated with the same method. The quantitative comparison with the experimental results reveals that the simulations fairly reproduced the microscopy observation results despite some deviation. The proposed method provides a foundation for the microstructure-based modelling of PMB performance in the future.

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