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Impact Performance Comparison of Fiber Reinforced Composite Sandwich Structures in Arctic Condition



About 40% of sea ice-covered areas have been reduced over the last three decades due to the effect of global warming. The Northern Sea route has been considered as a more effective, quicker, and economical sea route for marine vessels. But it is not safe to operate in such a cold and harsh environment due to the potential risk of collision with ice chunks, resulting in damages in the marine structures. It is therefore important to understand the behavior of marine composites at low temperatures, with the overarching goal that leads to improved design for marine structures and materials that can operate safely and effectively in the Arctic environment. This study investigates the low-velocity impact performance and damage mechanisms of woven carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP), glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP), and carbon-glass fiber hybrid face sheets sandwich panel at both room temperature (23 °C) and low temperature (-70 °C) to mimic the Arctic environment. A series of low-velocity impact tests (3.46 m/s and 4.92 m/s) is performed at 15 J and 30 J energy using a drop tower testing machine. A relative comparison of the impact response due to different face sheet materials is presented in terms of force, displacement, and energy. Force-time and force-displacement plots show that GFRP sandwich composites have the highest damage initiation force and peak force values across different temperatures and impact energies. Furthermore, the lowest energy absorption for GFRP composites is found responsible for the least impact-induced damage. X-ray microcomputed tomography reveals severe fiber breakage on the compression side of CFRP sandwich panel and back face spitting at both temperatures for 30 J impacts. By replacing carbon fibers with glass fibers, the damage mechanism switches from fiber breakage to delamination as the dominant failure mode. The findings from this work will aid in a better understanding of the impact failure modes of composite sandwich structures at extremely low-temperature conditions.


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