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This summary report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-13-103    Date:  December 2013
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-103
Date: December 2013


The Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Multiscale Materials Modeling Workshop Summary Report April 23–24, 2013

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Breakthrough concepts in material science is one of the focus areas of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program and is a critical area of investment to create longer-lasting, more resilient, roadways and structures and preserve existing highway system assets under increasing demands.

While industry has an interest in better performing and more cost-effective materials and academics have and will continue to study material properties, there is a clear government role for encouraging an environment where experimental results and models can be compared and investigators can build on each other’s results. Developing an understanding of the complex materials used in highway infrastructure requires an enormous amount of research. Developing models is hard and software to test and apply the models harder. Integrating analytic approaches from multiple researchers is a whole new ballgame. Yet, that is exactly why and where government leadership is needed to connect the science to applications that will save money and time and provide materials with whole new properties for a next generation highway system.

The EAR Program is taking advantage of new scientific approaches for measuring and modeling materials across multiple length and time scales. It is becoming possible to characterize the chemical and mechanical properties in new ways necessary for controlling and designing complex materials used in roadways and structures. Accordingly, the EAR Program is funding research on multiscale material modeling across multiple institutions and coordinating the results with others conducting similar research. Based on this workshop and similar activities, FHWA is working through the EAR Program with other government agencies and is considering continued investment in moving scientific advances in materials characterization and modeling into the design and use of radically new materials.

Jorge E. Pagan-Ortiz
Director, Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Debra S. Elston
Director, Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.


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Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3 Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Multiscale Materials Modeling Workshop Summary Report

5. Report Date

December 2013

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Tom Morton

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Woodward Communications, Inc.
1420 N Street, NW, Suite 102
Washington, D.C. 20005

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.

Contract DTFH61-09-F-00027

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Infrastructure Research and Development and Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Workshop Summary Report, April 2013

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

FHWA's Contracting Officer's Task Manager (COTM): Zachary Ellis, HRTM-30
Technical Contact: Jack Youtcheff, HRDI- 10

16. Abstract

This report summarizes a 2-day workshop held to share information on multiscale material modeling. The aim was to gain expert feedback on the state of the art and identify Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program opportunities for multiscale material modeling as it applies to the optimization of properties, durability, and construction of asphalt and cementitious pavement and construction materials. The workshop provided an opportunity for researchers who develop material models and engineers who we the results of material models to discuss multiscale modeling of cementitious and asphaltic materials. Discussion topics included the purposes and audiences for current and future models, the state of the art in approaches to model degradation mechanisms across length scales, and technical and programmatic approaches to advance multiscale modeling methods. These discussions will form the basis for transition of results from research on multiscale material modeling and new plans for EAR Program activities.

17. Key Words

Cementitious and asphaltic materials, Exploratory advanced research, Material models, Material science, Material properties, Material characterization and modeling, Multiscale material modeling, Multiscale modeling methods, Multiscale computational models.

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7(8-72)Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents


Part One: Presentations

Measurement Modeling, and Interpretation of Sorption Isotherms: Directions Towards Predicting Material Properties and Degradation Phenomena

Water Sorption in Cement Paste: A Link Between Meso-Pore and Properties: Reversible and Irreversible Deformation

Porous Material Under the Nanoscope

Multiscale Modeling of the Performance of Cementitious Materials

Why Would Engineers Want to Use Multiscale Modeling: General Thoughts and the Example of Virtual Cement and Concrete Testing Laboratory

A Practitioner’s Thoughts on Modeling

Multiscale Packing Algorithm for Modeling of Mechanical Response of Concrete: Educational Top-Down Module

A Multiscale Computational Model for Predicting the Response of Asphaltic Pavement to Cyclic Loading

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Advanced Materials Initiative—Super Fibers and Super Structural Ceramics

The Role of Multiscale Modeling in Advancing Infrastructural Materials

Some Observations About Modeling—Highway Pavement and Structural Materials

Multiscale Modeling of Multiphysics: From Atoms to Continuum

Multiscale Characterization, Modeling and Simulation of Stone-Based Infrastructure Materials

Computer Aided Molecular Design: A Course-Grained Strategy for Accelerating the Discovery of Admixtures for Improved Durability and Performance of Pavement Materials

Part Two: Discussions

Role of Modeling

Measurement and Modeling Feedback

Grand Model Versus Focused Models

Gaps and Opportunities for Advancing the State of the Practice

Next Steps


Appendix A—Agenda

Appendix B—Workshop Participant

List of Figures

Figure 1. Conceptual picture of grains and water.

Figure 2. A network of pores.

Figure 3. Multiscale performance of carbon microfiber reinforced cement-based composites exposed to a decalcifying environment.

Figure 4. Description of a packing model.

Figure 5. An example of virtual aggregate packing showing the suspension packing model separation rule.

Figure 6. Homogenization of a cohesive zone.

Figure 7. Multiscale pavement analysis.

Figure 8. Research areas supported by the Structural Materials and Mechanics Program.

Figure 9. Photograph showing the top and bottom ends of a section of concrete from I-90.

Figure 10. Examples of sequential or hierarchical modeling.

Figure 11. A focused ion beam shows the micro-pore located at the asphalt phase along the asphalt-rock interface.

Figure 12. The scale of approximation.

Figure 13. The relationship between computational models and engineering tools.

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

General Terms

3D three-dimensional
CNT carbon nanotube
CTE coefficient of thermal expansion
DOT Department of Transportation
DVS dynamic vapor sorption
EAR Exploratory Advanced Research
ERDC Engineer Research and Development Center
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FIB focused ion beam
ICME integrated computational materials engineering
I-QSAR inverse-quantitative structure activity relationships
MD molecular dynamics
MGI materials genome initiative
nm nanometer
NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology
NSFC naphthalene sulfonate superplasticizer
NSF National Science Foundation
QMM quantum mechanical methods
QSAR quantitative structure activity relationships
SMM structural materials and mechanics
TFHRC Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
TPF transportation pooled fund
UCLA University of California, Los Angeles
UTPA University of Texas–Pan American
VCCTL Virtual Cement and Concrete Testing Laboratory


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