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Characterising the failure and fracture of blast loaded structural materials

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Sheffield United Kingdom Civil Engineering Mechanical Engineering Structural Engineering

About the Project

Explosions cause high intensity, short duration, loads that can be devastating to their surroundings. Examples include the recent Beirut explosion, the terrorist bombings in Manchester and the detonation of landmines across the globe. These explosion loads cause highly non-linear deformation, failure and fracture of materials and structures. Both the loading and the characterisation of fracture are difficult under such extreme conditions.

High-speed video imaging techniques that can operate and record data in the vicinity of explosions offer the ability to determine the transient failure and fracture of structural materials exposed to air-blast. Recent advancements in experimental capability at the University of Sheffield allow the measurement of out-of-plane transient surface displacements of a flexible target under blast loading, by using Digital Image Correlation to analyse high-speed video footage. Preliminary studies show that it is possible to measure transient displacements and the initial velocity field of the target plate. However, difficulties were encountered when the target plate fractured or fragmented. This project seeks to build on the past advances and extend the high-speed video techniques and DIC processing to capture fragmentation and failure of materials and blast-loaded structures.

To support the interpretation of the fragmentation and fracture testing, the candidate will use dynamic material characterisation techniques and explicit finite element modelling to explore the modelling of material failure, fracture and its progression. It may be possible to apply these techniques to a wide range of materials, from structural steels to lightweight lattice materials to fibre reinforced polymer composites.

The candidate should have background knowledge in imaging techniques (high speed video), as well as prior education and experience in structural mechanics or materials engineering. You will be joining The Blast and Impact Research Group at The University of Sheffield, with 4 academic staff members, 3 postdoctoral researchers, and 13 PhD students. The Blast and Impact Research Group has decades of research experience into the mechanisms of loading arising from explosion events and their subsequent effects on structures and materials. Our goal is to determine the underlying mechanisms involved in the loading and responses arising from explosion and impact events with a view to improving the safety of people and infrastructure at risk. Our work balances fundamental scientific research and real-world impact, allowing us to play a key role in the development of new solutions to protect people and structures against the damaging effects of high explosive blasts.

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