VTRC has many state-of-the-art laboratories and qualified technicians capable of running advanced tests on materials, structures, environmental processes, and soils. Click on any of the options below to learn about our laboratory facilities and capabilities. 

The Asphalt Laboratory is an AASHTO-accredited laboratory that offers the capability to perform a wide range of tests on asphalt binders and mixture. Our experienced Asphalt Lab technicians are certified to conduct routine and advanced material characterization-related tests.

The Asphalt Laboratory is divided in two main sections: 

Binder Laboratory: Focuses on the rheological and chemical characterization of asphalt binders and emulsions. The Binder Laboratory is equipped with up-to-date tools to determine performance grading such as:

  • Dynamic shear rheometers
  • Asphalt binder aging ovens
  • Rotational viscometers
  • Bending beam rheometers
  • Cleveland open cup
  • Asphalt binder extraction and recovery setups

Furthermore, this laboratory provides advanced chemical- based testing using novel Fourier Transform Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Gel Permeable Chromatography (GPC) setups.

Mixture Laboratory: Focuses on the components/recipe, mechanical and performance characterization of asphalt mixtures. The Mixture Laboratory is equipped to perform routine volumetric and other specialty tests such as:

  • Asphalt Pavement Analyzer (APA) rut test
  • Indirect tensile cracking test (IDT-CT)
  • Illinois flexibility index test (I-FIT)
  • Texas overlay test.

Moreover, the Mixture Laboratory is equipped with four asphalt mixture performance testers (AMPT) capable of comprehensively characterizing the performance of asphalt mixtures.

The Concrete Laboratory can test aggregates, prepare concrete mixtures, and determine the fresh and hardened properties of concrete.

The following tests are conducted in the laboratory:

  • Relative density, density, abrasion resistance, and grading of fine and coarse aggregates.
  • Density, slump, slump flow, air content, density, and temperature of fresh concrete.
  • Compressive, splitting tensile, flexural, and shear strengths, resistance to freezing and thawing, permeability, resistivity and bulk resistivity, absorption, density, and temperature of hardened concrete.
  • Infiltration rate of hardened pervious concrete
  • Steel and composite reinforcement in tension
  • Pull-out test for Virginia Adjacent Member Connections

The laboratory equipment includes:

  • Eight data loggers that are used mainly in field projects.
  • Two environmental chambers
  • Two ovens
  • 300 kip Baldwin universal testing machine
  • 200 kip MTS universal testing machine
  • 50 kip universal testing machine
  • Pan mixer with 1.75 cubic feet capacity
  • Hobart mortar mixer
  • Mortar mixer with 4 cubic feet capacity
  • Drum mixer with 1 cubic feet capacity
  • Dual paddle mixer
  • Permeameter
  • Freezing and thawing chamber
  • Wenner probe
  • Aggregate crusher

The Geotechnical Laboratory can perform a variety of soil tests:

  • Equipment determines strength, permeability and index properties of soils encountered on construction projects. 
  • Computers do triaxial, consolidation, permeability, and direct shear testing. 
  • Field testing and monitoring equipment is available for projects, including automated data loggers, earth pressure cells, piezometers, strain gages and weather instrumentation. 
  • Equipment is maintained for field testing of structures, including dynamic load testing and long-term monitoring of strain, displacement, acceleration and weather instrumentation. 

The Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Laboratory houses equipment for performing nondestructive evaluation using acoustic emission, ultrasonic, and visual methods.

  • In this laboratory, NDT is performed on construction materials to better understand the materials and improve on NDT testing techniques.
  • NDT equipment is maintained and calibrated for field use in this laboratory.
  • To support VDOT, some of the field-ready NDT equipment can be used for cross-hole sonic logging, sonic echo/impulse response, ultrasonic pulse velocity, and acoustic emission testing, in addition to borescope assisted visual inspection.

The Chemistry and Corrosion Laboratory is equipped for wet chemistry analysis, corrosion related testing, and handheld elemental analysis of materials.

  • This laboratory performs tests on reinforced concrete specimens, alloyed steels and welded features, and fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) materials.
  • One of the main focus areas of this laboratory is to investigate the durability of new construction materials. 
  • Multiple electrochemical tests, including impedance spectroscopy experiments, can be run simultaneously to evaluate corrosion related behavior.
  • To support VDOT, equipment for field testing is maintained in this laboratory which includes ruggedized corrosion related testing equipment and handheld devices for x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analysis.

The Structures Laboratory has a wide array of experimental testing equipment to support VTRC's focus of applied research for VDOT, including the following equipment.

  • 220-kip uniaxial MTS test frame (tension and compression)
  • 55-kip uniaxial MTS test frame (tension, compression, and torsion)
  • 22-kip uniaxial MTS test frame (tension and compression)
  • Numerous test fixtures for MTS frames
  • Numerous hydraulic rams for conducting static tests
  • Skidmore Wilhelm rotational capacity bolt testing device
  • MTS video and laser extensometers
  • Numerous instruments to measure load, displacement, and strain during testing
  • Numerous Campbell Scientific data acquisition systems
  • Could add info about Bernie's two new pieces of equipment for corrosion testing

In the future, VTRC hopes to add an abrasive water jet cutter for machining steel samples and a Charpy V-notch Impact tester for testing steel impact energy.

The Environmental Lab supports research conducted by three full time research scientists and one graduate research assistant.  


  • Water quality analysis (examples: determine water turbidity, dissolved oxygen, presence of nutrients or metals such as chromium, and pH levels affected by highway construction)   
  • Water treatment process evaluation (examples: filter fabric evaluation, flocculant testing, evaluation of membrane treatment practices) 
  • Vegetation growth (example:  dry and weigh vegetation samples to assess biological impacts of different types of erosion control matting)   
  • Filtration testing (example:  investigate reverse osmosis for salt ponds)  
  • Gravimetric separation and flash point testing (example:  determine if microscopic recycled plastics leach from the asphalt binder into road runoff)  
  • Remote cameras (example:  quantify the impact of various highway engineering treatments on animal wildlife collisions)  

Common Tests:

  • ASTM D4189 (Silt density index) 
  • ASTM D2035 (Jar testing of coagulants and flocculants) 
  • ASTM D93 (Closed cup flash point testing) 
  • ASTM D5907 (Total suspended solids) 
  • ASTM D6698 (Water turbidity) 
Equipment includes a spectrophotometer, sampling containers, dataloggers, autosamplers, sensors, flumes, remote cameras, ultrasonic acoustic emissions detectors, glassware, and storage capacity for field and lab samples, most of which require refrigeration or protection from ultraviolet (UV) light.  

Last updated: February 27, 2024

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