Al-Qadi to lead FHWA project on ground-penetrating radar

6/1/2021 2:03:43 PM

By McCall Macomber, Illinois Center for Transportation

Imad Al-Qadi
Imad Al-Qadi

Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) recently announced that Imad Al-Qadi, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Bliss Professor of Engineering and ICT director, has been awarded a Federal Highway Administration project. The project, “Ground Penetrating Radar-based Real-time Monitoring of Asphalt Concrete Density,” will begin June 1, 2021.

The effort is in response to an FHWA program designed to accelerate the implementation of “innovative practices and technologies as standard practices.”

Al-Qadi and LaDonna Rowden, Illinois Department of Transportation’s bureau chief of research, serve as principal and co-principal investigators, respectively. Also assisting with the effort are UIUC graduate students Qingqing Cao and Lama Abufares.

The researchers will focus on ground-penetrating radar — a real-time, nondestructive test that sends electromagnetic waves into pavements. They will use GPR to measure density, a key quality control and quality assurance metric that impacts a pavement’s durability and service life as well as contractors’ pay.

Al-Qadi and colleagues have pioneered the development and implementation of GPR over the past 30 years.

Its use includes predicting pavement layer thickness and detecting internal flaws in roads, bridges, and railroads. GPR is also key to the development of an electromagnetic mixture theory — Al-Qadi Lahouar Leng (ALL) — to predict in-situ asphalt pavement density at ICT.

Ground-penetrating radar is attached to a vibratory roller — a machine that compacts pavement to increase its load-bearing capacity — during a Chicago pavement resurfacing project with Gallagher Asphalt to assess the technique’s feasibility.
Ground-penetrating radar is attached to a vibratory roller — a machine that compacts pavement to increase its load-bearing capacity — during a Chicago pavement resurfacing project with Gallagher Asphalt to assess the technique’s feasibility.

The project builds off a technique Al-Qadi developed with several UIUC doctoral graduates that involves adding a GPR onto a commercial compactor roller to monitor real-time pavement compaction data such as density.

This technique is noninvasive and is a much less time- and labor-intensive technique compared to existing methods for measuring asphalt pavement density.

The researchers hope to widely develop that technique for the construction community in the FHWA effort.

They aim to create a user-friendly interface for those not familiar with GPR as well as a prototype that can be mounted on a compactor roller.

The team also hope to test the technology under various field conditions and compare the results to existing technologies that measure density.

“This is a special project that implements The Grainger College of Engineering’s vision of technology transformation and FHWA’s vision to apply advanced technology in construction practices,” Al-Qadi said.

“I specially would like to recognize our ICT engineers, Gallagher Asphalt and Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association for their proactive assistance in the field proving this technology,” he added.

Anticipated project completion is May 2023.


Originally posted at https://ict.illinois.edu/news/al-qadi-to-lead-FHWA-project-on-ground-penetrating-radar