Matrix Cracking and Delaminations in Orthotropic Laminates Subjected to Freeze-Thaw: Model Development


With the increasing use of fibre composites in applications such as cryogenic liquid hydrogen tanks and repair/retrofitting of bridges, the diffusion and freezing of moisture to form ice is an issue of growing importance. The volumetric expansion of water when it freezes to form ice results in stress concentrations at the inclusion tip that may synergistically interact with the residual tensile stresses in a laminate at low temperatures to initiate a crack. In addition, understanding the long-term effect of daily and/or seasonal freeze-thaw cycling on crack growth in a laminate is of vital importance for structural durability. The objective of this paper is to establish a theoretical framework for the calculation of the stress intensity factor (K 1) of a pre-existing crack in a composite structure due to the phase transition of trapped moisture. The constrained volume expansion of trapped moisture due to freezing is postulated to be the crack driving force. The principle of minimum strain energy is employed to calculate the elastic field within an orthotropic laminate containing an idealized elliptical elastic inclusion in the form of ice. It is postulated that a slender elliptical elastic inclusion can be used to approximate the stress field at the crack face, which can subsequently be used to calculate the stress intensity factor, K 1, for the crack. The verification of the analytical model predictions and some potential applications will be published in a separate paper.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

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Article - Journal

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© 2002 Rapra, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2002