Maozhou Meng



This thesis studies the static and fatigue failure of carbon fibre-epoxy composite for marine use. The primary objective is to investigate the effects of sea water ingress on the static and cyclic performance of laminated composites, by using the combination of experimental, numerical and analytical approaches. Experiments were carried out to collect evidence, including data and images, for further analysis. Samples were made from autoclave-cured carbon fibre-epoxy pre-preg for the static, moisture diffusion and fatigue tests. Three chambers were used in the diffusion test, containing fresh water (tap water), sea water and sea water at 70 bar hydrostatic pressure respectively. And the chambers were placed in an oven at a constant temperature 50 °C in order to accelerate the water absorption. Optical and scanning electron microscopies (SEM) were employed to inspect for manufacturing defects and to identify the failure modes. Some formulae were derived to predict the material properties of laminated composites, to validate the mechanical tests, and to explain the failure criteria of composites. Finite element analysis (FEA) was employed to study the phenomena that were observed in the experiments. FEA has the aim to simulate the static, diffusion and fatigue behaviour involving multiphysics and multiscale effects. The FEA modelling has revealed details of the stress and moisture distributions, which have helped to understand the failure mechanisms of laminated composites. Classical laminate theory (CLT) was employed to develop an analytical model. The basic principles of CLT were extended to three-dimensions, and the analytical solution was critically compared with the FEA results. Some MATLAB tools based on CLT were developed to predict the properties of laminated composites and to analyse the experimental data. These MATLAB codes are shown in the appendix. This thesis has contributed to an improved knowledge of the failure mechanisms of composite materials in both normal and marine environments, and to optimize structural design of FRP composites.

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