Micro-mechanical analysis of salt creep tests with a joint-enriched Finite Element model
Chester, Frederick M.
Chester, Judith S.
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In this study, micro-mechanisms that govern the viscous and damage behavior of salt polycrystal during creep processes are investigated. A Finite Element model is designed with POROFIS, in which surface elements represent salt grains and joint elements represent inter-granular contacts. Microscopic observations of salt thin sections serve as a basis to design the mesh, which includes voids. We compare three strategies to predict microscopic damage in the salt polycrystal: (1) inter-granular damage represented by damage propagation in joint elements; (2) intra-granular damage represented by stiffness degradation in grain surface elements; (3) damage in both surface and joint elements. We simulate creep tests in conditions typical of Compressed Air Energy Storage. The three models capture polycrystal stiffness degradation and the initiation, propagation and coalescence of cracks that originate from geometric incompatibilities and local stress concentrations. The model with damageable joints presents a more ductile behavior and captures a smooth transition between steady state and tertiary state creep. This research is expected to improve the fundamental understanding of viscous damage mechanisms in salt rock for geostorage applications, and bring new insights on numerical modeling of multi-scale damage processes in crystalline materials.