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Modeling the Behavior of Fiber Reinforced Sandwich Structures Subjected to Underwater Explosions


Perotti, Luigi Emanuele (2011) Modeling the Behavior of Fiber Reinforced Sandwich Structures Subjected to Underwater Explosions. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/83JD-HN76.


Fiber composite material panels and sandwich panels possess both a high resistance to weight ratio and a high stiffness to weight ratio. Due to these features, fiber composite panels are used widely in aeronautic and marine structures, where the improvement of the structural performance while keeping a low weight is crucial. Sandwich structures, consisting of a foam core enclosed by two external layers of fiber reinforced material, seem to be promising in minimizing the total weight, maintaining structural rigidity and improving the resistance under exceptional loads, such as those due to explosions. Full scale experiments to test the performance of real fiber composite sandwich structures subjected to underwater explosions would be very complex and expensive. Therefore, the capability to numerically simulate the response of sandwich structures undergoing explosive loading will provide a powerful and unique tool to analyze and optimize their design by investigating the influence of different parameters. Obviously, small scale laboratory tests will still be essential to validate and calibrate the computational model before its use.

The present research focuses on the development of a computational scheme to model the behavior of large sandwich panels subjected to underwater explosions. The description of the sandwich requires the definition of the material behavior of the components, i.e., the foam core and the external sheets, of the structural behavior of the thin shell structure, and of the interaction with the surrounding fluid. Several finite kinematics material models taken from the recent literature have been used, and a new simple model for fiber reinforced composites has been developed and validated. The thin shell structure is modeled with an existing in-house built non-local shell finite element code (SFC), equipped with fracturing capabilities. The coupling between the behavior of the shells and the action of the fluid as a consequence of an underwater explosion is modeled here with the aid of an existing fluid-solid interaction (FSI) code. In this study, the FSI code has been expanded in order to include the possibility of simulating fiber composite materials. New algorithms and new control indicators, such as global measures of energy dissipation, have also been developed. The new capabilities of the fluid-solid coupled solver have been verified and validated before applying the solver to realistic problems. In the applications part of the present research, two different methods for applying the pressure load due to an underwater explosion are compared. The first method is simpler, and consists in applying a prescribed pressure profile without considering FSI. In the second method, the explosive charge is modeled as a spherical energy deposition and the full FSI is considered. The simpler method is used to assess the role of different design parameters of the face sheets on the overall response of sandwich panels when subjected to impulsive loads. Subsequently, the best sandwich design obtained from these initial simulations is used for the evaluation of the mechanical performance of the hull section of an existing Argentinean navy vessel. The final application of the proposed computational scheme is a parametric analysis of the hull section, considering different weights of the explosive charge and different distances of the explosion location from the hull wall.

Finally, with awareness of the limits of the adopted approach, several alternative schemes to improve the dynamical analysis of sandwich panels impulsively loaded are presented and discussed. In particular, two different kinds of shell finite elements are introduced. The proposed shell elements are based on alternative approximation schemes, which may model in a more realistic way the behavior of sandwich structures under extreme loads.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Underwater explosions; Fiber reinforced; Sandwich structures; Fluid-solid coupled simulations; Foam core; Modeling the response to explosions
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Minor Option:Applied And Computational Mathematics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Ortiz, Michael
Thesis Committee:
  • Ortiz, Michael (chair)
  • Krishnan, Swaminathan
  • Pandolfi, Anna
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
Defense Date:1 October 2010
Non-Caltech Author Email:luigiemp (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
U.S. Office of Naval ResearchN00014-06-1-0730
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:11052010-113423550
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6172
Deposited By: Luigi Perotti
Deposited On:17 Nov 2010 17:39
Last Modified:09 Oct 2019 17:06

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