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Optimization of Cellular Concrete for Impact Resistant Infrastructure: A Multiscale Analysis of Energy Absorption Behavior of Brittle Cellular Materials

David Lange, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Ashraf Idkaidek, David Lange

The design of impact-resistant systems (e.g., packaging, protective gear) often relies on the optimization of cellular structures for enhanced energy absorption capabilities. In civil engineering applications, cellular concrete has gained popularity in the design of impact-resistant infrastructure, including explosion barriers in mines and military engineering projects as well as aircraft arresting systems. In cellular concrete, as in most cellular materials, energy absorption is defined by the stress-strain curve, in which a plateau is indicative of crushing behavior at a near-constant load. Energy absorption results from a combination of elastic buckling, plastic yield, and brittle fracture of the cellular microstructure. However, the underlying mechanics behind this deformation behavior is not well understood.

Here, we propose the use of nonlinear finite element analysis (FEA) to explore how variations in the microstructure of cellular concrete influence quasi-static and dynamic mechanical properties. Three-dimensional X-ray computed tomography data will be used to inform detailed FEA models that incorporate progressive damage throughout an impact event. This kind of sophisticated modeling requires the computational abilities of a petascale machine such as Blue Waters.

The goal of this study is to aid in the optimized design of impact-resistant infrastructure in both low- and high-velocity impact events. The results are applicable to a wide range of cellular materials and could aid in the design of impact-resistant systems for various technological and medical applications.