Providing Confidence in Durable Composites (DURACOMP)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Advanced composites have potentially transformative properties compared to other construction materials that offer unparalleled structural solutions. Composites have impacted the aerospace and automotive industries, resulting in lighter, energy efficient solutions. We aim to translate this paradigm to the construction industry by tackling the single largest factor limiting their uptake - durability. This will be achieved through the development of methodology/tools for durability assessment/design.
In the DURACOMP project the consortium team shall investigate the long-term degradation processes of construction composites in order to enhance confidence in their durability. We will achieve this through an ambitious, integrated programme of physical testing and computational modelling that will bring new insights into the behaviour of composites.
A structural-level testing programme, augmented by selected material-scale tests, coupled with uncertainty qualification and quantification, will be undertaken.
The consortium team will utilise advances in multi-scale analysis to develop a computational, predictive modelling capability for the response of degrading of composites. This will enable us to investigate and design the reliability of service lives of safety critical structures.

Planned Impact

The result of fundamental research from this transformative project will be wanted by academic groups in aerospace, automotive, construction and marine who are working on developing computational methods for the life prediction of (safety critical) structures having components of composite material. National excellence in simulation and modelling, with significant international academic impact, will be maintained (and strengthened) because this project combines, uniquely, multi-scale modelling and stochastic reliability analysis with the addition of the computation taking account of societies having to adapt national infrastructure for environmental (climate) change. Structural and civil engineering academics researching with composites for construction will find the material and system-level component physical test results useful. In particular, it is expected that the test methods used to determine the properties for the computational modelling will be highly valued as the community now seeks reliable and relevant information to develop, simple, yet robust, approaches that can allow the design process of safety critical structures of composites to become similar to that with conventional construction materials. Further understanding on the behaviour of connections and joints subjected to fatigue and environmental loading will impact on design and practice, and in all engineering sectors using composite materials.

Five highly-skilled PDRAs will be a most important output from the DURACOMP project. Not only will these researchers have enhanced their specialist expertise, they will have received valuable continuing professional development through working as an integrated member in a larger team of 13 (of which eight are academics). The benefit of having a much larger network of contacts, with diverse expertise will provide for further impact during the PDRAs (industry or academic) careers, after the project ends. The skills obtained as a PDRA researcher working on the DURACOMP project will be valued by industry also.

The level of industry support at the start of the DURACOMP project is not high because the concept for the new paradigm is embryonic (not 12 months old and completion of the team membership was only in July 2012). Impact for industry, and for society at large, is seen by the team as for the medium- to long-term. It is an expectation that deliverables during the DURACOMP project will lead to new strategic partnerships with industry following the one-day workshops in months 24 and 35.These partnerships will speed-up commercial exploitation that helps to improve the nation's wellbeing, via the execution of future critical infrastructure (both for new build and refurbishment). Once the team has used the workshops to demonstrate to others that the new paradigm's methodologies can provide a vital resource for future societal benefits, national infrastructure stakeholders within the supply chain will want to support what natural follows after the DURACOMP project ends. This medium-term impact will lead to wealth creation by, for example, minimising material usage (and thereby CO2), and to the setting-up of a national centre for durability assessment of (low environmental impact) materials that have an exciting role to play in achieving sustainable construction. The long-term impact will be fewer failures during the service lives of infrastructure because design uncertainties will be accounted for in a way that they cannot be today. Impact beyond the UK is assured since there is no equivalent holistic project at this time.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The research teams (at Universities of Bath, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Warwick) have completed the process of developing new computational models, and creating and using a database of test results for the durability of FRP composite materials. Test results from the computational analyses were assess against the reliability of new and extensive physical test data on how FRPs age in the laboratory. Research findings from this work were not as definite as expected. The main outcomes to March 2018 have been from the research contributions in terms of: physical testing and characterization work from Bristol, and from Bath and Warwick collaborating: new computational models for multi-scale and stochastic analyses, with their interaction and combination from joint work at Glasgow and Newcastle.
Sector Construction
 
Title Inference of Through-Thickness Stresses in Curves of T-Joints via Strain Gauge Data 
Description Strain gauges around the circumference of the transition between web and flange of the GFRP T-joint are used in an unprecedented manner to quantify through thickness stress as well as tangential stresses as the arc of the curve connection is traversed. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Quantification of stresses INSIDE of the joint for verification of predictive analyses. 
 
Title Multi-scale & multi-physics finite element model for composites 
Description Implementation of textile composite model in finite element framework using computational homogenisation method. The model captures the evolving bulk properties of composites (thermal, hygral and mechanical). In this implementation plasticity of the matrix and cohesion of interface are also taken into account. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This open source software is in the public domain and has been used by out collaborators at Newcastle University (Gosling). 
URL https://bitbucket.org/likask/mofem_um_homogenisation
 
Description Formax UK Ltd. 
Organisation Formax
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Testing of FORMAX materials to characterise how and why mechanical properties change with hot/wet aging that simulates how the durability of the materials could change over the life time of an FRP structure.
Collaborator Contribution To provide a fibre reinforcement for the composite processing of two materials for the characterisation work. The two laminates had a unidirectional and a cross-ply lay-up. East Coast Fibreglass were sub-contracted to make the panels that were used in test programmes at Bath and Warwick Universities.
Impact Publications are to appear.
Start Year 2013
 
Title MoFEM 
Description MoFEM (Mesh Oriented Finite Element Method) is a C++ library supporting the solution of finite elements problems. It integrates advanced numerical tools for solving large-scale, multi-physics finite element analysis on multiple computer platforms, from laptops to high performance computers. It is a flexible, future-proof and sustainable software framework, enabling researchers to focus on the underlying physics and application of their work. It provides a shared software development platforms for new advances in FE technology and associated numerical techniques (e.g. parallel computing, mesh adaptivity and evolving geometries). It integrates software development infrastructure, with shared repositories, version control, continuous code testing, validation, code documentation software, naming conventions, etc. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2013 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact MoFEM is being evaluated by the nuclear industry to be used for possible future safety cases related to life extension of the UK's fleet of Advanced Gas-Cooled Nuclear Reactors (AGRs). MoFEM provides a finite element analysis framework for the durability analysis of composites. 
 
Description Confidence in Durable Composites (DURACOMP) in the proceedings of the FIF5 forum (EPSRC Network) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk publicized the DURACOMP project to other structural and geotechnical engineers and started communications with colleagues working on similar multi-partner EPSRC projects.

None known as of 08/11/14.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www-fif.construction.cam.ac.uk/
 
Description Talk to industry and academics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting of bridge owners, academics and practitioners focused on FRP uses in civil engineering applications. Held at Danish Embassy in London in August 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description University Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation to the Composites Construction Lab (CCLab) group, led by Professor Thomas Keller, at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://memento.epfl.ch/event/civil-engineering-structures-incorporating-advance/