The Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Laboratory (ATREL)
The Illinois Center for Transportation is housed in the Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Laboratory (ATREL). ATREL is a unique and comprehensive transportation research, educational, and testing laboratory within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
The laboratory complex is located on 47 acres just 15 miles north of the UIUC Campus. The complex includes 60,000 square feet of laboratories, continuing education classrooms, office space, a technical library, and a computer facility.
ATREL’s goal is to provide high quality education and research in the area of transportation and to advance the state-of-knowledge by developing innovative, economical, and reliable technologies for airport, highway, and rail systems. To sustain our leadership, current research projects range from basic science and theoretical research to full-scale field-testing and evaluation of pavement, railroad, and transportation systems. The outcomes of our research efforts are producing top quality graduates and disseminating our research findings nationally and internationally.
Accelerated Testing Facility (ATLAS)
Through funding from the state of Illinois, ATREL acquired the Accelerated Transportation Loading System (ATLAS) in 1993. A $2 million investment, ATLAS can evaluate full-scale transportation systems by subjecting them to real-life traffic and environmental conditions. The system is capable of simulating aircraft, truck, or rail traffic distributions, testing all types of pavement systems, and applying load levels exceeding that of highway and airfield limits.
ATLAS weighs 156 kips and is 124 feet long, 12 feet high, and 12 feet wide. Mounted on four crawler tracks, the test unit can be easily positioned on the pavement test section. ATLAS transmits loads to the pavement structure through a hydraulic ram attached to a wheel carriage, which can accommodate a single tire, dual tires, aircraft tire, or a single axle rail bogey. The load level can vary between 0 and 80 kips. ATLAS has been adapted to include a portable structure that allows control of daily temperature changes on the pavement section being studied. The ATLAS facility also has readily available data acquisition systems for collecting both static and dynamic data from instrumented pavement sections.
The loading length of the ATLAS is 85 feet with approximately 65 feet of constant velocity loading of the wheel. At a maximum speed of 10 mph, loading can be either uni- or bi-directional. It can also wander up to 3 feet in a lateral direction to simulate real world traffic distributions. For a 20 kip single wheel load, trafficked at the edge of a concrete slab, ATLAS can simulate approximately 5 million equivalent single axle loads per day.
Materials Processing Facility (MPF)
MPF is used for the storage and processing of the materials used in highway research. This facility houses the equipment necessary for the sieving of aggregates, as well as for the sawing and coring of asphalt and concrete to test specific geometries. In addition to the sample preparation equipment, there are several servo-hydraulic load frames and large scale triaxial testing machines.