Investigating the effectiveness of composite materials in combat situations is the focus of newly funded research by Kedar Kirane, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Kirane’s proposal to quantify how much energy composites can safely absorb has won a $359,000 grant through the Young Investigator program of the Army Research Office (ARO).
“The ability of rigid materials, such as concrete and steel, to withstand blast and other catastrophic events is well-understood. Not so with composites,” Kirane said. “Dissipation of the energy absorbed based on the material’s cracking rate and branching of cracks is key to understanding how well these materials perform. Additionally, in composites, complications arise since branching of cracks can often imply a transition to a different failure mechanism. Capturing these transitions is key to correctly predicting the energy absorption.”
Composite non-metal materials are becoming a bigger part of our lives every day, and the lives of our military. Temporary housing and other structures in combat areas, automobiles, steel and other rigid materials (such as concrete) are being replaced by lighter, more easily adaptable materials. However, these materials must still perform at the protective level of rigid materials. This is especially true in combat areas where composite textile materials used in construction may be subject to explosions and other severe impacts while troops are inside.
“The development of models that can predict damage and crack propagation in advanced materials such as textile composites when subjected to severe conditions will lead to significant advancements for future Army vehicles and soldier protection systems,” said Dr. Ralph Anthenien, Solid Mechanics Chief, Mechanical Sciences Division, Army Research Office.
“Protecting our military in at-risk situations is a critically important mission,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Through his successful proposal for the YIP award, Professor Kirane and Stony Brook will be an important part of that mission. Given the increasing usage of composites in everyday life, the findings will likely have broader application beyond the military.”
— Dick Wolfe