Impact of New-Generation Wide Base Tires on Pavement Investigated

Even though they’re known to provide more environmental benefits than conventional dual-tire assemblies, wide-base tires are often associated with higher pavement responses and more damage to roads infrastructure. However, scientific literature lacks in-depth evaluation of pavement damages and the benefits attributed to each tire type.

The need to thoroughly investigate the extent of damage caused by wide-base tires versus dual-tire assemblies has led to the initiation of the project “Damage and Life Cycle Assessment of New-Generation Wide-Base Tires in New Brunswick, Canada” by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure of New Brunswick, Canada, in collaboration with researchers from the Illinois Center for Transportation.

The final report summarizing findings of the research project is available here.

“As a small Canadian Province we do not have ready access to a test track, or local expertise to model the damages/ benefits of these tires in consideration of the New Brunswick highway design standards, geology and climatic conditions,” says Corey White, Director of Project Development and Assessment Management at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in New Brunswick, Canada. “This study will be used to propose a pilot project in New Brunswick for new-generation wide-base tires at 9000 kg per axle that mitigates pavement damage while maximizing the socioeconomic benefits.”

New Brunswick Pavement Analysis Tool interface.

The researchers used two methods to evaluate the impact of new-generation wide-base tires compared with dual-tire assemblies on typical pavement sections in New Brunswick: the finite element method analysis, which incorporates features commonly disregarded in alternative methods of flexible pavement analysis such as the pavement’s material behavior and loading conditions; and the life-cycle assessment method, which provides global warming potential and energy consumption data in light of multiple variables, including market penetration, traffic level, and the seasonal effect.

The study revealed that wide-base tires are generally responsible for greater critical pavement responses than their dual counterparts; the variation is often more pronounced for near-surface responses.

“A holistic evaluation of the impact of wide-base tires was applied based on both pavement damage and environmental impact,” says graduate research assistant Izak Said, who has served on the project’s research team. “The impact of vehicle-tire interaction on pavement damage was quantified using advanced theoretical modeling and sustainability claims were validated by performing full life-cycle analysis for the different sections available in New Brunswick.”

The project also resulted in the development of a user-friendly tool, the New Brunswick Pavement Analysis Tool, to help implement the study’s findings. Using this simple tool, engineers will be able to predict the impact of wide-base tire market penetration on pavement response, loading, and the life of pavement.

According to Principal Investigator Imad Al-Qadi, the project’s findings not only quantify the impact of using wide-base tires in New Brunswick Province but also emphasize the environmental benefits obtained in the form of reduced fuel use and generated emissions resulting from the reduction in rolling resistance associated with the use of wide-base tires.