An acoustic emission and hygrothermal aging study of fiber reinforced polymer composites

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites are a premier choice for offshore wind turbines and Marine Hydro-Kinetic Devices, which operate in harsh and isolated marine environments. These factors combined with decades long target service life make imperative the understanding of damage mechanisms and the environmental effects thereof. Acoustic emission monitoring is a research technology that uses specialized sensors to detect transient elastic waves in a material which originate from damage sources. Waveform parameters have been correlated with different damage mechanisms in fibrous composites. A diverse set of fiber-matrix combinations configured into a variety of layups totaling more than 30 laminates were mechanically tested in quasi-static uniaxial tension while monitoring acoustic emission. A subset of these materials was aged prior to testing in an artificial marine environment by soaking in a water bath of simulated seawater at 50 degrees Celsius. Various acoustic emission waveform parameters were investigated with respect to expected damage between layups and possible material-based differences. Among the conditioned material set, mechanical changes from moisture absorption shows mixed levels of degradation among different material systems. Moduli were generally unaffected with a few minor decreases. Strengths were reduced by as much as 41%, and failure strains fell as much as 47%. From acoustic emission investigation, good correlation is found between Fast Fourier Transform peak spectral frequency bands and expected damage mechanisms between layups. Material based peak frequency differences are found exclusively in interphase failures (de-bond and fiber pullout). Layup-based correlations in conjunction with elastic wave theory were used to put forth new frequency band ranges associated with damage types.




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