Hydrothermally degraded carbon fiber / epoxy plates subjected to underwater explosive loading in a fully submerged environment

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An experimental and computational investigation was conducted to evaluate the underwater blast response of fully submerged carbon fiber composite plates after prolonged exposure to saline water. The material was a biaxial carbon fiber/epoxy composite with a [±45°] fiber orientation layup. The plates were placed in a saline water bath with a temperature of 65 °C for 35 and 70 days, which simulates approximately 10 and 20 years of operating conditions in accordance to Fick's law of diffusion coupled with Arrhenius's Equation and a reference ocean temperature of 17 °C. Underwater blast experiments were performed in a 2.1 m diameter pressure vessel. The composite plates were placed in the center of the vessel while fully submerged in water, and an RP-85 explosive was detonated at a standoff distance of 102 mm from the center of the plate. Two cases of fluid hydrostatic gage pressures were investigated: 0 MPa, and 3.45 MPa. Two high speed cameras were utilized for three-dimensional Digital Image Correlation, which provided full-field displacements and velocities of the composite plates during underwater blast loading. A third high speed camera captured the behavior of the explosive gas bubble. Moreover, the pressure fields generated by the explosive detonation and resulting gas bubble were recorded with tourmaline pressure transducers. A water diffusion study was completed which showed that the diffusion of water into the composites reached a point of complete saturation after 35 days of exposure. Quasi-static material characterization tests were performed before and after prolonged exposure to saline water. The properties obtained from quasi-static testing also served as material inputs for the numerical models. The quasi-static test results showed that the tensile modulus E1,2 does not change with exposure to saline water, whereas the in-plane shear modulus G12 decreases with saline water exposure. During blast loading, for the case of 0 MPa hydrostatic gage pressure, the gas bubble interacts with the composite plate substantially. In such an event, the out of plane displacement increased for saline water exposed plates when compared to virgin structures. For the case of 3.45 MPa hydrostatic gage pressure, the gas bubble does not visibly interact with the composite plate. In this case, the out of plane displacement for specimens exposed to saline water was similar to the virgin specimen. A fully coupled Eulerian–Lagrangian fluid structure interaction simulation was performed by using the DYSMAS code. The numerical simulations showed that the displacement of fully submerged composite plates is driven by the displacement of fluid, as well as the size of the gas bubble formed by the explosive rather than the peak pressure generated by the explosive. The numerical simulations were in agreement with the experimental findings in terms of pressure history and plate deformation.

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Marine Structures