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UMass Dartmouth professor researching if re-refined engine oil in asphalt mix can past the test on New England roads

Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor Walaa Mogawer receives $550,131 from MassDOT to evaluate performance of a New England asphalt mixture designed using asphalt binders modified with Re-Refined Engine Oil Bottoms (REOB)

UMass Dartmouth Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Dr. Walaa Mogawer has received $550,131 in grant funding  from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to evaluate the performance of a New England asphalt mixture designed using asphalt binders modified with Re-Refined Engine Oil Bottoms (REOB). Dr. Mogawer serves as the Director of the UMass Dartmouth Highway Sustainability Research Center (HSRC), 

"The goal, as is the case with all research done at the Center, is to maximize the use of recycled material without compromising performance," said Dr. Mogawer. "This funding allows us to further explore how we can improve the roads, bridges, and highways we drive on every day. The work of HSRC is committed to a future of pavement construction attained through sustainable, eco-friendly, and economical means." 

REOB is recycled engine oil, which has been experimented with in asphalt mixtures for more than three decades. However, questions still remain about its performance in terms of its ability to hold up in the short-and-long term, particularly in the colder climates of New England states. Some states have even banned its use. While seen as a cheaper alternative as an asphalt binder, Dr. Mogawer's research is focused on if REOB can meet certain performance grades and withstand the low temperatures of Massachusetts and surrounding states. 

Utilizing the latest asphalt and pavement testing equipment and technology at the HSRC, located at the Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center in Fall River, Dr. Mogawer and his team will put two REOB sample binders through stress tests to see if they meet the short-and-long term standards set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). 

The two phase study will specifically address:

  • the minimum and maximum REOB dosage required to reach the target performance grade
  • the effect of the maximum dosage on the performance of a typical New England asphalt mix after short and long term aging
  • can the same dosages of REOB be used if they come from a different source, given that several companies produce the re-refined engine oil
  • how does ROEB compare to other products used to modify asphalt mixtures to meet the low temperature grades of New England and states 

Dr. Mogawer brings more than 26 years of experience in pavement design, maintenance, and rehabilitation to the Center alongside numerous students from the Civil and Environmental Engineering program. Established in 2001, the lab has helped establish a working partnership with local and state agencies, and private companies. 

Since joining UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Mogawer has served as principal investigator on several research projects funded by MassDOT, New England Transportation Consortium (NETC), and National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Mogawer received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Kuwait University in 1981 and an M.S. and a doctorate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Rhode Island in 1984 and 1989 respectively. 

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