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Microstructural Simulation of Superelastic Zirconia-Reinforced Metal Composite for Energy Dissipation Applications



This paper studies the mechanical properties of superelastic zirconia-reinforced aluminum-matrix composites through finite element simulations of microstructural representations. The objective of this study is to exploit the reversible phase transformation of zirconia to develop a composite with improved strength and energy dissipation capacity. Zirconia is a shape memory ceramic with promising potential in actuation, energy damping, and fatigue applications. Compared to the most commonly used shape memory alloys, zirconia is distinguished by a wider operational temperature range, higher recoverable strains, and a larger energy dissipation. The two-phase composite studied in this work consists of 16 mol% ceria-doped zirconia particles embedded in an aluminum matrix. The behavior of zirconia is simulated using the isothermal superelastic constitutive relationship proposed by Auricchio and Taylor. A series of numerical simulations is conducted to examine the effects of the matrix yield stress as well as the particles’ diameter and volume fraction on the evolution of the phase transformation, the strength, and the energy dissipation of the composite. A random generating algorithm is used to produce the locations of zirconia reinforcing particles. The results indicate that zirconia-reinforced aluminum-matrix composite exhibits enhanced strength and energy dissipation. The incorporation of 50% zirconia volume fraction improves the maximum stress by 50% while the amount of energy dissipation is increased by 24%. This paper provides insight into the potential application of zirconia-based composites for an efficient damping response.


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