Micromechanical modeling of the effects of adiabatic heating on the high strain rate deformation of polymer matrix composites

Christopher Sorini, Aditi Chattopadhyay, Robert K. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites are increasingly being used to fabricate energy-absorbing aerospace structural components susceptible to impact loading, such as jet engine containment structures subjected to blade-out events. The development and certification of such structures necessitates a detailed understanding of the dynamic behavior of the constituent materials, particularly the strain rate, temperature, and pressure dependent polymer matrix, and their complex interaction. As the rate of deformation increases, the thermodynamic condition transitions from isothermal to adiabatic. The conversion of plastic work to heat causes local adiabatic heating in the polymer matrix, but the rapid nature of impact events does not allow sufficient time for heat to dissipate; ballistic impact events can therefore be regarded as fully adiabatic. Local adiabatic heating can significantly affect the high rate deformation response if thermal softening effects outweigh strain and strain rate hardening effects and therefore, must be explicitly modeled at the appropriate length scale. In this paper, an existing isothermal viscoplastic strain rate and pressure-dependent polymer constitutive formulation is extended to nonisothermal conditions by modifying the inelastic strain rate tensor components to explicitly depend on temperature based on the Arrhenius equation for nonisothermal processes. A methodology based on shifting neat resin dynamic mechanical analysis data is utilized to determine the polymer elastic properties over a range of strain rates and temperatures. Temperature rises due to the conversion of plastic work to heat are computed, assuming adiabatic conditions. It is demonstrated that the modified polymer constitutive model is capable of capturing strain rate and temperature dependent yield as well as thermal softening associated with the conversion of plastic work to heat at high rates of strain. The nonisothermal polymer constitutive model is then embedded within the Generalized Method of Cells micromechanics framework to investigate the manifestation of matrix thermal softening, due to the conversion of plastic work to heat, on the high strain rate response of a T700/Epon 862 unidirectional composite. Adiabatic model predictions for high strain rate composite longitudinal tensile, transverse tensile, and in-plane shear loading are presented. Results show a substantial deviation from isothermal conditions; significant thermal softening is observed for matrix dominated deformation modes (transverse tension and in-plane shear), highlighting the importance of accounting for local adiabatic heating in the polymer matrix in the high strain rate analysis of polymer matrix composite structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-384
Number of pages8
JournalComposite Structures
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Adiabatic heating
  • Micromechanics
  • Plastic deformation
  • Polymer matrix composites (PMCs)
  • Thermomechanical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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