Strategized Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Predicting and Extending the Service Life of Concrete Pavements and Bridges

Existing research has shown the effectiveness of lightweight aggregates in extension of the service life of concrete materials, including concrete pavements and bridge decks. The motivation of this project is to assess the benefits of this innovative solution and introduce best practices to the transportation industry. Such introduction requires multi-scale assessments of material (lightweight aggregates), method and means (curing and transport properties), and infrastructure (pavement and bridge) performance levels. Experimental investigations facilitate the assessment of lightweight aggregates and concrete specimens using available standards and specifications. Analytical investigations follow empirical results to predict desired transportation elements' service life and life cycle. Further, sustainability rating systems utilize the outcome of these investigations to assess the performance measures of the proposed solution.

Principal Investigator: 
Fariborz M. Tehrani
PI Contact Information:

California State University Fresno

January 2024 to December 2024
Implementation of Research Outcomes: 

This project aims to develop novel approaches to predicting and extending the concrete service life in pavement and bridge systems. Concrete materials provide durable solutions and contribute to the resilience of transportation infrastructure. However, the environmental footprints of cementitious contents raise concerns about their impacts on climate change. Hence, enhancing the service life of concrete pavements and bridge decks is vital to reducing embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions during the lifecycle of transportation systems. Experimental investigations include mix design, fabrication, and testing of different concrete specimens and prototypes. Specimens and prototypes differ concerning aggregate types and sources. Normal-weight concrete will be the witness or control mix. The correlation between transport and the mechanical properties of specimens will provide the base trend to assess the effectiveness of the lightweight aggregates in concrete mixtures. Analytical investigations include two significant tasks. The first task simulates the service life of concrete prototypes using analytical tools. This analysis utilizes the transport properties of concrete to predict the service life of concrete applications. The second task utilizes bottom-up estimates using environmental declarations to measure carbon footprints for each specimen. These measures address the significant benefits of the proposed solution, including extended life, enhanced allocation of natural resources, and reduced energy and emissions.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

Cracking, permeability, and diffusion are common problems in concrete elements that substantially impact the service life of transportation infrastructure, such as concrete pavements and bridge decks. These properties generally determine the vulnerability of concrete due to chemical attacks, corrosion, freeze-and-thaw cycles, shrinkage, creep, and thermal effects. They may influence later cracking when exposed to adverse environmental conditions. Enhancement of the interfacial transition zone (ITZ) through proper curing and pozzolanic bonding plays a vital role in controlling shrinkage and, thus, reducing early-age cracking and other deficiencies. However, the accelerated nature of transportation projects and constrained lane-closure regulations often require reduced construction time facilitated by fast-setting cementitious materials, which is not practical for applying conventional external curing methods and demands significant cementitious contents. The application of lightweight aggregates is an innovative method to address this problem. The high absorption rate of fine, lightweight aggregates introduces a high potential to preserve water for cement hydration during curing. The pozzolanic properties of porous lightweight aggregate strengthen the ITZ. Further, concrete materials with lightweight aggregates exhibit lower thermal expansion and lower modulus of elasticity, both influential in controlling thermal cracking. Furthermore, the embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with such applications reduce the environmental footprint of projects.

Project Number: 



Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: