Multi-scale modelling of moisture diffusion coupled with stress distribution in CFRP laminated composites
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Laminated composite structures operating in a marine environment are subject to moisture ingress. Due to the slow diffusion process of moisture, the distribution of moisture is not uniform so that the laminates can develop hygrothermal stresses. An accurate prediction of the moisture concentration and the associated hygrothermal stress is vital to the understanding of the effect of marine environment on failure initiation. The present paper investigates the time-dependent moisture diffusion and the stress distribution in carbon fibre reinforced polymeric (CFRP) composites by means of experimental study and Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Samples were made from CFRP pre-preg autoclave-cured, and then immersed in fresh water and sea water at a constant 50°C for accelerated moisture diffusion. Laminates with 16, 16, [±45]4s lay-up sequences were investigated. A multiscale 3D FEA model was developed to evaluate the interfacial stresses between polymer matrix and carbon fibre and the stress distribution in the composite laminates. The analysis revealed that both the stress distribution and stress level are time-dependent due to moisture diffusion, and the interphase between fibres and matrix plays an important role in both the process of moisture diffusion and the stress/strain transfer. The interlaminar shear stresses of the laminates induced by hygrothermal expansion exhibited a significant specimen edge effect. This is correlated with the experimental observations of the flexural failure of laminates.
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