RPL - Road Pavements Laboratory


Three point bending dynamic test on an asphalt concrete specimen

Indirect tensile stiffness modulus test with MatTA

Heated automatic mixer

Gyratory Compactor

Sample containing a transparent binder

Natural Light coloured aggregates

Binder-aggregates adhesion test

Artificial lightweight aggregates

Light Falling Weight Deflectometer in situ testing on a research trial field

Static Plate load test

RPL joined the MSCA Researchers’ Night at UNIBO

Quartering a sample of aggregates

Cement bound sample made with recycled aggregates

The Road Pavements Laboratory works it is more than 90 years for research and consultancy purposes in the field of transportation infrastructures. Soils, aggregates, bitumens, asphalt concretes and innovative materials are fully characterized by means of traditional and advanced laboratory and in situ equipment.

RPL can perform all the needed testing protocols for the performance characterization of materials and pavements employed in the construction of roads, railways and airports. It has a heavy equipment lab, an experimental section for dynamic and rheological analysis and a mobile lab equipped for in-situ testing.

The laboratory as part of a public institution works developing research and training at the academic level and it is qualified for the certification of materials according to the Italian law and on behalf of third parties.


The Road Pavement Laboratory is active since 90 years ago and has always been performing research and certification tests in the laboratory or in-situ. In 1936 from the historical premises of Piazza Celestini, the former Laboratory of the Roads and Railways construction Institute, was moved into the new building located in Viale Risorgimento 2, along with the new School of Engineering. In January 2019 the laboratory has been transferred to the main DICAM labs facilities located in Via del Lazzaretto 15/5, where larger spaces and new standard and advanced pieces of equipment are now available.

Research topics

In the laboratory, traditional and advanced characterization tests are carried out on construction materials for transportation infrastructures. In particular, in addition to specific characterizations for internal scientific research, tests are carried out for consulting and research agreements with external bodies and companies.

The research activities range from the formulation and design of new bituminous, cementitious and alkali-activated mixtures, to their advanced dynamic characterization, from the pre-qualification of soils to their stabilization with hydraulic or chemical binders, from the study of the compaction of recycled materials to evaluation of their bearing capacity on site. Specifically, studies can be included: on recycled rubber from end-of-life tires, on bituminous mixtures in warm and cold conditions, on bituminous interfaces with and without reinforcement systems, on transparent binders for pavements with reduced thermal impact, on the creation of surfaces made of artificial aggregates.

Teaching and training activities

Teaching activities

The RPL is a reference point for the institutional teaching activities of various degree courses. Students who attend the courses of the three-year, master's and single-cycle degrees have the opportunity to follow live the experiments and routine tests, in addition to the research studies that engage the technicians and researchers of the laboratory on a regular basis. The laboratory is equipped with a mobile acquisition system for distance learning.

A number of researches are conducted every year at the RPL to which graduating students bring their contribution for the development of their final graduation thesis. There is also the possibility for students to carry out curricular internships at the RPL. In compliance with the common safety standards, undergraduates and trainees work in the laboratory under the supervision of the technicians and teaching staff, often carrying out the test procedures themselves. Finally, some degree courses in Civil Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction-Architecture and Environmental Engineering provide for an educational path that includes classroom lessons followed by practical activities in the laboratory.


Training activities

The Road Pavements Laboratory carries out external training activities aimed at professionals and practitioners working in the field of transportation infrastructures. Numerous training courses were organized by the Department's teaching and technical group aimed at professionals and practitioners. The aid of direct observation of the tests described during the training activity constitutes the strong point in the learning path of the most common test methodologies that appear in the profession of the technician working in the transportation infrastructure sector.


The RPL, with a view to the Third Mission of DICAM, carries out specialist consultancy for the needs of Industries, SMEs, and local authorities. For several years it has been making its equipment available to CIRI Edilizia e Costruzioni (Tecnopolo di Bologna).

Equipment and structures

Traditional pieces of equipment

RPL is equipped with a wide range of traditional test equipment including:

Innovative pieces of equipment

The RPL is equipped with innovative equipment for tests in accordance with EN and unconventional research tests:


Scientific contact 
Prof. Giulio Dondi

Technical contact
Ettore Cappellari