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Modelling the compressive strength of polymer laminates in fire

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Geoff Gibson, Professor Adrian Mouritz


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A theoretical and experimental study is presented into the thermal decomposition, softening and failure of polymer matrix laminates under combined compressive loading and one-sided heating to high temperature. A thermo-mechanical model is presented for predicting the time-to-failure of laminates supporting a static compressive stress during one-sided heating. The thermal component of the model predicts the mass loss due to polymer decomposition and through-thickness temperature profile of the hot laminate. The mass loss and temperature predictions are validated against measured data, and the agreement is good. The thermal analysis is coupled to a mechanics-based model that calculates the loss in compressive strength with increasing temperature. The model can also predict the time-to-failure of the hot laminate supporting a static compressive load. The accuracy of the model is evaluated using failure times measured in fire-under-compression load tests on a woven E-glass/vinyl ester laminate. The experimental time-to-failure values decreased with increasing heat flux (temperature) and applied compressive stress, and the model can accurately predict these failure times. The paper also examines the dimensional expansion, out-of-plane distortion and failure mechanism of laminates under combined compressive loading and heating. It is envisaged that the thermo-mechanical model is a useful tool to estimate the failure time of compressively loaded composite structures exposed to high temperature or fire.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Feih S, Mathys Z, Gibson AG, Mouritz AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing

Year: 2007

Volume: 38

Issue: 11

Pages: 2354-2365

ISSN (print): 1359-835X

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.compositesa.2007.04.013


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