Volumetric Properties and Stiffness Modulus of Asphalt Concrete Mixtures Made with Selected Quarry Fillers: Experimental Investigation and Machine Learning Prediction
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In recent years, the attention of many researchers in the field of pavement engineering has focused on the search for alternative fillers that could replace Portland cement and traditional limestone in the production of asphalt mixtures. In addition, from a Czech perspective, there was the need to determine the quality of asphalt mixtures prepared with selected fillers provided by different local quarries and suppliers. This paper discusses an experimental investigation and a machine learning modeling carried out by a decision tree CatBoost approach, based on experimentally determined volumetric and mechanical properties of fine-grained asphalt concretes prepared with selected quarry fillers used as an alternative to traditional limestone and Portland cement. Air voids content and stiffness modulus at 15 °C were predicted on the basis of seven input variables, including bulk density, a categorical variable distinguishing the aggregates’ quarry of origin, and five main filler-oxide contents determined by means of X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. All mixtures were prepared by fixing the filler content at 10% by mass, with a bitumen content of 6% (PG 160/220), and with roughly the same grading curve. Model predictive performance was evaluated in terms of six different evaluation metrics with Pearson correlation and coefficient of determination always higher than 0.96 and 0.92, respectively. Based on the results obtained, this study could represent a forward feasibility study on the mathematical prediction of the asphalt mixtures’ mechanical behavior on the basis of its filler mineralogical composition.
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