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Federal Highway Administration
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Washington, DC 20590

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Mobile Concrete Laboratory

Transferring Advanced Concrete Technology To Our Partners

The FHWA Mobile Concrete Laboratory. It is used to deploy promising new technologies related to concrete paving through a variety of technology  transfer activities.
Photo of the Federal Highway Adminstrations Mobile Concrete Laboratory

  • A modern concrete batch plant used to produce concrete for concrete pavement construction. A typical plant has a central mixer drum, aggregate feed bins, and silos for cement, fly ash and other supplementary cementitious materials.
    Concrete Plant
  • Construction of Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP). CRCP is a unique rigid pavement in that it has no constructed transverse contraction or expansion joints except at bridges or at pavement ends. The use of longitudinal steel reinforcement, results in a series of closely spaced transverse cracks. CRCP has the potential to provide a long-term, "zero-maintenance," service life under heavy traffic loadings and challenging environmental conditions.
    Continously Reinforced Concrete Pavement Construction
  • Application of curing compound during concrete pavement construction. Curing is an important process in constructing durable concrete pavements. Proper curing allows the concrete to develop its potential strength and durability. Inadequate curing can result in surface damage in the form of plastic shrinkage cracking, spalling, and erosion of paste.
  • A modern concrete paver during construction of a jointed plain concrete pavement. Modern pavers have many innovative features that are in built such as real time smoothness, dowel bar inserter, stringless paving and in some cases the ability to construct the travel lanes and shoulders in one pass.
  • Construction of a concrete pavement using stringless paving technology. Stringless paving is a technology that eliminates the installation and maintenance of stringlines that are common in traditional concrete paving. This technology has the potential to decrease the need for surveying and increase the smoothness of the pavement profile. The benefits that can result from stringless paving included increased production, decreased construction time, and reduced potential for errors.
    Stringless Paving
  • Construction of a two lift concrete pavement. Two-lift concrete paving involves placing two layers of concrete (wet-on-wet) rather than the traditional method of using a single, homogeneous layer of concrete that is commonly used in the United States. The bottom layer is generally thicker and consists of lower quality that is not suitable to use in surface courses. The top layer is thin and consists of high-quality concrete and aggregate, that provides better durability, reduced noise, and improved skid resistance.
    Two-Lift Paving


Federal Highway Administration's Mobile Concrete Laboratory (MCL) introduces Federal, State, and local transportation personnel to the state-of-the-art concrete technology in materials selection, mixture design, field and laboratory testing, and pavement evaluation. In an effort to bridge the gap between research and the field, the MCL accomplishes this technology transfer in several ways:

  • By conducting on-site field testing at construction projects to supplement State highway agency (SHA) testing and to demonstrate new innovative equipment / construction practices.
  • By training SHA personnel through "hands-on" experience with new technologies.
  • By showcasing equipment and technology at industry conferences, symposia, and SHA facilities to familiarize transportation personnel with state-of-the-art technology.
  • By providing an equipment loan program where SHA personnel can borrow equipment for various lengths of time after having been trained in their use by MCL staff.

The current focus of the MCL includes assisting SHA's implementation of the mechanistic-empirical pavement design guide (MEPDG) and nondestructive testing, performance-related specifications (PRS), long life pavements, durability, and sustainability. An active partnership with manufacturers, contractors, industry associations, and academia is central to all of the MCL's activities.


Field demonstrations are performed using a fully equipped mobile concrete testing laboratory that can perform a wide range of concrete tests. These include conventional destructive tests as well as new and innovative nondestructive tests.

Examples of these capabilities are:

Conventional QC Tests:

  • Temperature, slump, air content, unit weight
  • Strength (compression, flexural, splitting tensile)
  • Elastic Modulus and Poisson's Ratio

Nondestructive and In Situ Tests:

  • Dowel Bar Alignment
  • Pavement Thickness
  • Tensile Bond Strength
  • Impact Echo
  • Ultrasonic Tomography
  • Pull Out Strength
  • Maturity Testing
  • Match Curing

Durability Related Tests:

  • Microwave Water Content
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion
  • Rapid Chloride Permeability
  • Surface Resistivity
  • Calorimetry
  • Air Void Analyzer
  • HIPERPAV Software
  • Aggregate Gradation Software

Customer Services

The MCL accomplishes its goal of technology deployment through project participation, demonstrations, training, and equipment loan. In an effort to reach a maximum number of transportation personnel with significant project findings, evaluation results, and innovative concrete technologies, the MCL provides project reports and published papers in journals and symposia proceedings. Presentations at industry conferences and showcases, such as ACI, PCI, ACPA, and TRB are utilized to further the transfer of these new technologies. MCL staff can also provide speakers, put on specialized workshops, and provide technical assistance.


If your are interested in one or more of the services provided by the Mobile Concrete Laboratory, you can contact your FHWA Resource Center, Division Office, or the MCL staff directly:

Gary Crawford,
Project Manager, FHWA, (202) 366-1286.

Jagan Gudimettla,
MCL Project Engineer, Global Consulting, Inc., (202) 366-1335.

Jim Grove,
Senior Project Engineer, Global Consulting, Inc., (515) 294-5988.

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Pavement Technology
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590


  • Set-up for nondestructive pavement thickness requirement on US 30 in Iowa
  • Device to nondestructively measure pavement thickness
  • Device to measure Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) of concrete
  • Frame used to measure CTE of Concrete .
  • Semi-adiabatic Calorimeter
  • Heat Signature Curves from a Semi-adiabatic Calorimeter
  • Capillary Sensors
  • Capillary Sensors
  • Buik Resistivity Meter
  • Surface Resistivity Meter
  • Ultrasonic tomography
  • Air Void Analyzer measures air content, specific surface, and spacing factor in fresh concrete
  • Device to nondestructively measure dowel bar alignment
  • Tensile bond strength testing of a bonded over asphalt overlay
  • Super Air Meter
  • Optimized Gradations
  • Hiperpav
  • Microwave

Testing and Activities

  • The Mobile Concrete Laboratory at the National Highway Institute's Materials Training Course
    NHI training course
  • The Mobile Concrete Laboratory at a workshop in California
    MCL at a workshop in California.
  • Demonstration
  • Hands-on Training
    Hands-on Training
  • Sampling
  • Testing
  • Workshop
  • FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez being briefed in the Mobile Concrete Laboratory
    FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez being briefed
    in the Lab.



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Updated: 09/18/2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000