FHWA, MnDOT Investigate Pavement Surface’s Effect on Fuel Consumption

In an effort to quantify pavement surface characteristics' effect on fuel consumption and energy conservation, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) have released a new report on rolling resistance. The report, Pavement Texture Evaluation and Relationships to Rolling Resistance at MnROAD, is now freely available online.

MnDOT is investigating the influence of pavement surface characteristics on rolling resistance—resistance to motion caused by pavement's interaction with a vehicle's tires—because lessening this resistance reduces the energy required to overcome it during road travel. A 10% decrease in rolling resistance could reduce the US public's fuel consumption by two to three percent and eliminate up to $12.5 billion in fuel costs per year.

The Pavement Texture Evaluation and Relationships to Rolling Resistance at MnROAD report was released as part of the PCC Surface Characteristics – Rehabilitation MnROAD Study, transportation pooled fund TPF 5-(134). According to MnDOT's Dr. Bernard Izevbekhai, the pooled fund's lead agency contact, "The research conducted under this study intends to produce data that will allow MnDOT to identify ideal ranges for surface characteristics including texture, friction, and roughness and how these variables interact. The goal: improve pavements' quietness and ride quality while keeping them safe and durable."

The report is based on test data collected at the MnROAD testing facility and laboratory in cooperation with MnDOT, the Technical University of Gdansk, and pavement engineering firm The Transtec Group (Transtec). Transtec used their robotic laser texture profiler, RoboTex, to collect precise texture data from MnROAD's varied set of pavement surfaces, then analyzed the relationships between each pavement's coefficient of rolling resistance and surface characteristics data. The full results of this analysis are available in the report.