Dr Sharon Mellings from BEASY recently attended the ICAF conference in Helsinki and presented a paper describing some recent work on the simulation of corrosion and fracture damage.
Airframe structures regularly operate in environments that can create conditions which allow high levels of corrosion damage, and this damage can lead to stress concentrations within the structure and potential development of cracks. The generation of electrical fields that are necessary for corrosion can occur even when only a thin film of electrolyte is present on the surface of the structure.
Computation of this electrical field can be used to identify areas in the airframe structure that are most susceptible to corrosion damage and which, after possible fatigue crack initiation, may lead to structural failure. Corrosion simulation, by taking account of the properties of the electrolyte and the structural materials, can determine the rate of material loss from the structure.
In this conceptual development, material is removed from the modelled surface (corresponding to corrosion occurring over a given exposure time) the stress concentrations can be evaluated and, if required, cracks can be introduced into the identified problem areas, to identify vulnerability to fatigue failure.
The geometry change caused by corrosion mass loss can be used to perform stress analysis of the structure, to determine the stress concentration in the component at the corresponding time in the life of the aircraft. If it is then assumed that cracks initiate at the peak stress locations, the subsequent crack growth can be simulated. This crack growth takes into account the corrosion damage and will inherently include local stress concentration due to the damaged surface. In the crack growth simulation, the full crack path and direction can be determined together with the fatigue life.
For a copy of the paper, or for more information about corrosion and fracture simulation, please contact us