Infrastructure and Geotechnics

Infrastructure and Geotechnics

The growth in traffic on Brazilian highways in recent decades, without the corresponding increase in the financial resources available for constructing, maintaining and renewing them, has resulted in the rapid degradation of the existing paved network, a reduction in the highway services and an increase in the number of accidents, helping to raise the cost of transport in Brazil. This jeopardizes the gains achieved through competitiveness in some sectors, which are lost due to difficulties associated with transporting products to exportation points. The repaving of the exiting road infrastructure as well as the construction and paving of new stretches, in a panorama of scarce resources, requires the high-level training of road engineers to seek materials with improved performance, rational design and dimensioning procedures, technological control of the execution process and better operation of highway projects and systems.

In this context, the area of Infrastructure and Geotechnics is focused on aspects related to the development and behavior of materials and the design, construction, maintenance and performance of highways; promoting in each step of these activities the concepts of sustainability and social responsibility. In this area, research is also directed toward themes complementary to the design of road and mobility projects, related to the geotechnical and geomechanical behavior of solid rock and of sedimentary deposits, with an emphasis on soft soils.

The area of Infrastructure and Geotechnics is divided into two major lines of research:

  • Geotechnics; and
  • Paving.

The research related to paving is carried out by professors Glicério Trichês (PQ1D), Liseane Thives Padilha and João Victor Staub de Melo, while geotechnics is researched by professor Gracieli Dienstmann.

In the past seven years, this area has managed to secure more than R$ 4 million for projects in collaboration with Petrobras, ANTT and CNPq, enabling the setting up of a laboratory infrastructure comparable to the best national and international academic institutions.

Dissertations and theses in this area have won five national awards in the past years.


1 – 2016 – IBP Thesis Award. Best defended thesis in the Brazilian Graduate Programs. Author: Cristine Yohana Ribas. Thesis: Analysis of the Influence of the Compaction Method on the Macrostructure of Dense Asphalt Mixtures through Digital Image Processing.

2 – 2016 – Vale-Capes Award of Science and Sustainability for a Doctoral Dissertation of Group I. Author: Joe Arnaldo Villena Del Carpio. Dissertation: Colored Asphalt Mixtures and Urban Heat Islands.

3 – 2015 – Capes Dissertation Award 2015. Engineering I. Honorable Mention. Author: João Victor Staub de Melo, CAPES. Dissertation: Development and Study of Rheological Behavior and Mechanical Development of Asphalt Concretes Modified with Nanocomposites.

4 – 2015 – Best Dissertation Award of the 9th Brazilian Congress on Roads and Concessions. Author: João Victor Staub de Melo. Brazilian Association of Highway Concessionaires. Dissertation: Development and Study of Rheological Behavior and Mechanical Development of Asphalt Concretes Modified with Nanocomposites.

5 – 2014 – ACE 80 Years of Innovation – Best Dissertation in Brazil in 2012/2014 chosen by the participants in the 8th National Seminar of Modern Road Technics. Author: Joe Arnaldo Villena Del Carpio, Engineers Association of Santa Catarina State. Dissertation: Colored Asphalt Mixtures and Urban Heat Islands.

Laboratory Infrastructure

The area of Infrastructure and Geotechnics is currently comprised of the following five laboratories for the development of research activities and the production of dissertations and theses:

  1. Soil Mechanics Laboratory (LMS): provides research support for the testing and analysis of soils, with an area of 412 m²;
  2. Paving Laboratory (LabPav): carries out tests to determine the behavior of cemented materials and bituminous mixtures, with an area of 80 m². This lab will be expanded to 220 m² in 2018;
  3. Engineering Geology and Rock Mechanics Laboratory;
  4. Binders and Asphalt Mixtures Laboratory (; and
  5. Geotechnical Mapping Laboratory.

There is also a mechanical workshop to support the development and adaptation of equipment, with an area of 25 m².

In the  Soil Mechanics Laboratory, physical characterization and mechanical resistance tests are carried out to research and analyze soil behavior. The existing equipment allows testing to determine the densification, direct shear, triaxial compression, compaction, California bearing ratio, granulometry and other physical properties, for the characterization of soils. Tests are also carried out to classify soils according to the MCT (miniature, compacted, tropical) methodology and the resistance to compression of large samples (600×1200 mm) for the testing of rockfill to be applied in large dams.

The Soil Mechanics Laboratory has continuously supported companies involved in projects for the duplication of the highways BR 101, BR 470 and BR 280 through the carrying out of special tests for the characterization of soil behavior and consultancy services.

The Paving Laboratory – LabPav works mainly with the following research themes:

  • Concrete Asphalt Mixtures: conventional, modified by the addition of polymers, tire rubber, nanoproducts and pigments;
  • Functional asphalt mixtures: drainage; enhanced friction; reduced noise (silent coatings);
  • Rheology of binders and asphalt mixtures;
  • Recycling of pavements;
  • Reuse of industrial wastes and byproducts;
  • Dimensioning and performance of pavements;
  • Highway noise;
  • Photocatalytic coatings; and
  • Reduction in the emission of pollutants and energy consumption in the production of asphalt mixtures.

LabPav currently has the following infrastructure and facilities:

  • Triaxial equipment for repeated load (10×20 cm samples) for the study of the resilient behavior of soils;
  • Diametral equipment for repeated load to determine the resilient modulus of asphalt mixtures;
  • Rolling thin film oven test – RTFOT, to simulate the ageing of the asphalt binder during machining;
  • Brookfield rotational viscometer;
  • Apparatus for carrying out the Lottman test (moisture-induced damage);
  • Apparatus for carrying out Rice test;
  • Mechanical Marshall apparatus for molding specimens;
  • Photocatalytic reactor (prototype) for the evaluation of the photocatalytic efficiency of surfaces;
  • Compaction screed for molding plates and specimens, reproducing in the laboratory the compaction conditions in the field;
  • Rotary compressor for the design of asphalt mixtures, adhering to the European and American specifications;
  • Four point bending apparatus to characterize fatigue performance in asphalt mixtures;
  • Two point bending apparatus to characterize fatigue performance in asphalt mixtures;
  • French traffic simulator to characterize the permanent deformation performance of asphalt mixtures;
  • Shear test apparatus, for the incorporation of nanoproducts and polymers into asphalt;
  • Elastic recovery apparatus to characterize the elastic recovery of the modified asphalts;
  • Impedance tube to evaluate the sound absorption capacity of asphalt mixtures;
  • CPX trailer to evaluate the tire/pavement noise on highways;
  • Equipment to perform British pendulum and sand patch tests to evaluate the texture and friction of asphalt coatings; and
  • Dynamic shear rheometer for the rheological characterization of asphalt binders.

These pieces of equipment were acquired through the financial support of CNPq, FAPESC and Rede Temática de Tecnologia do Asfalto [Thematic Network of Asphalt Technology].