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International Journal for Multiscale Computational Engineering

Impact factor: 1.103

ISSN Print: 1543-1649
ISSN Online: 1940-4352

International Journal for Multiscale Computational Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/IntJMultCompEng.2016016908
pages 349-366

SIMULATING FRAGMENTATION AND FLUID-INDUCED FRACTURE IN DISORDERED MEDIA USING RANDOM FINITE-ELEMENT MESHES

Joseph E. Bishop
Engineering Sciences Center, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185, USA
Mario J. Martinez
Engineering Sciences Center, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185, USA
Pania Newell
Engineering Sciences Center, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185, USA

ABSTRACT

Fracture and fragmentation are extremely nonlinear multiscale processes in which microscale damage mechanisms emerge at the macroscale as new fracture surfaces. Numerous numerical methods have been developed for simulating fracture initiation, propagation, and coalescence. Here, we present a computational approach for modeling pervasive fracture in quasi-brittle materials based on random close-packed Voronoi tessellations. Each Voronoi cell is formulated as a polyhedral finite element containing an arbitrary number of vertices and faces. Fracture surfaces are allowed to nucleate only at the intercell faces. Cohesive softening tractions are applied to new fracture surfaces in order to model the energy dissipated during fracture growth. The randomly seeded Voronoi cells provide a regularized discrete random network for representing fracture surfaces. The potential crack paths within the random network are viewed as instances of realizable crack paths within the continuum material. Mesh convergence of fracture simulations is viewed in a weak, or distributional, sense. The explicit facet representation of fractures within this approach is advantageous for modeling contact on new fracture surfaces and fluid flow within the evolving fracture network. Applications of interest include fracture and fragmentation in quasi-brittle materials and geomechanical applications such as hydraulic fracturing, engineered geothermal systems, compressed-air energy storage, and carbon sequestration.