Experimental and numerical analyses of dynamic deformation and failure in marine structures subjected to underwater impulsive loads
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The need to protect marine structures from the high-intensity impulsive loads created by underwater explosions has stimulated renewed interest in the mechanical response of sandwich structures. The objective of this combined numerical and experimental study is to analyze the dynamic response of composite sandwich structures and develop material-structure-property relations and design criteria for improving the blast-resistance of marine structures. Configurations analyzed include polymer foam core structures with planar geometries. A novel experimental facility to generate high-intensity underwater impulsive loads and carry out in-situ measurements of dynamic deformations in marine structures is developed. Experiments are supported by fully dynamic finite-element simulations which account for the effects of fluid-structure interaction, and the constitutive and damage response of E-glass/polyester composites and PVC foams. Results indicate that the core-density has a significant influence on dynamic deformations and failure modes. Polymeric foams experience considerable rate-effects and exhibit extensive shear cracking and collapse under high-magnitude multi-axial underwater impulsive loads. In structures with identical masses, low-density foam cores consistently outperform high-density foam cores, undergoing lesser deflections and transmitting smaller impulses. Calculations reveal a significant difference between the response of air-backed and water-backed structures. Water-backed structures undergo much greater damage and consequently need to absorb a much larger amount of energy than air-backed structures. The impulses transmitted through water-backed structures have significant implications for structural design. The thickness of the facesheets is varied under the conditions of constant material properties and core dimensions. The results reveal an optimal thickness of the facesheets which maximizes energy absorption in the core and minimizes the overall deflection of the structure.