Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

First Advisor

Arun Shukla


Experimental studies were performed to understand the explosive response of composite panels when exposed to near-field explosive loading in different environments. The panel construction under consideration was an E-glass fiberreinforced composite laminate infused with vinyl ester resin (Derakane 8084). The panel was layered bi-axially with plain-woven fiber orientations at 0º and 90º. Panel dimensions were approximately 203 mm x 203 mm x 1 mm (8 in x 8 in x 0.04 in). Experiments were carried out with the panel fully clamped in a holding fixture, which was in turn fastened inside a water tank. The fixture was fastened in such a way as to allow for explosive loading experiments in the following environments: water submersion with water backing, water submersion with air backing, and air immersion with air backing. Experiments were performed in room temperature conditions, and additional experiments in the submerged environments were also performed at high and low water temperatures of 40 °C and 0 °C, respectively. A stereo Digital Image Correlation (DIC) system was employed to capture the full-field dynamic behavior of the panel during the explosive event. Results indicated that the immersion environment contributes significantly to the blast response of the material and to the specimens’ appreciable damage characteristics. The water submersion with air backing environment was found to encourage the greatest panel center point deflection and the most significant damage mechanisms around the boundary. The air immersion with air backing environment was found to encourage less center point deflection and exhibited significant impact damage from the explosive capsule. The water submersion with water backing environment encouraged the least panel deflection and minimal interlaminate damage around the panel boundary and center. Water temperature was found to influence the panel center point deflection, but not damage mechanisms. Maximum positive center point deflections associated with the high and room temperature water submersion with air backing environments, while statistically similar to each other, were found to be statistically different from those associated with the low temperature environment.