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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION
1.1 General
The finite element method (FEM) has since 1970s become the most widely used
approach to obtain numerical solutions to sophisticated problems in applied mechanics and
gradually in many other fields. The basic concept in the physical FEM is the subdivision of
the mathematical model into disjoint (non-overlapping) components of simple geometry
called finite elements or elements for short. The response of each element is expressed in
terms of a finite number of degrees of freedom characterized as the value of an unknown
function, or functions, at a set of nodal points. The response of the mathematical model is
then considered to be approximated by that of the discrete model obtained by connecting or
assembling the collection of all elements. Because of its simple concept, nowadays, FEM
is applied and widely used for a wide range of civil engineering applications such as
structural design and analysis, soil mechanics, and fluid machines. In the fracture
mechanics of concrete, FEM has been used to perform analysis of two-dimensional
cohesive crack propagation (Bocca et al., 1991; Alfaiate et al., 1997; Glvez et al., 2002;
Mos and Belytschko, 2002; Prasad and Krishnamoorthy, 2002; Yang and Chen, 2004). In
simulation of failure processes, the propagation of cracks is modeled with arbitrary and
complex paths and it is necessary to deal with large deformations of the mesh.
Despites extensive research, crack analysis using FEM still encounters many
limitations and difficulties. The most significant one is the representation of discontinuities
owing to cracks. The use of elements in FEM spawns difficulties in the treatment of
discontinuities that do not coincide with the original mesh lines. Thus, one of the
traditional techniques for handling these complications is to regenerate the discretization or
remesh the domain of the problem in each step of the evolution in such a way that the mesh
lines remain coincident with the discontinuities throughout the evolution of the problem
(Bocca et al., 1991; Prasad and Krishnamoorthy, 2002; Yang and Chen, 2004). The
remeshing procedures in FEM are ostensibly laborious and often cause a bottleneck in
analysis procedure, especially in two- or three-dimensional problem domains. Even in the
linear analysis, a large number of remeshing can be computationally more expensive than
the assembly and solution processes. In addition, the remeshing procedure may introduce
several difficulties that can lead to degradation of solution accuracy and increased
complexity of computer implementation.
Another popular technique is to embed the discontinuities directly into elements
and modify the stiffnesses of the elements to incorporate the discontinuities (Dvorkin and
Assanelli, 1991; Wells and Sluys, 2001; Alfaiate et al., 2002). The method is convenient
because the modification can be performed at the element level. By formulating the
embedded discontinuity, localized failure is treated as a discrete phenomenon but
contained within a continuum framework. The embedment of the discontinuity within
elements allows a crack to propagate arbitrarily through a mesh, unlike conventional
discrete and smeared crack models. The discrete crack models lump the contribution of the
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cracking into a discontinuity which appear as a separated boundary, while the smeared
crack models represent it as crack strain distribution over a finite volume by modifying the
constitutive law (stress-strain relationship) of the element intersected by the crack.
However, with this embedded discontinuity technique, it is difficult to maintain the
continuity of the crack line. As a result, the continuity of the crack line is mostly neglected.
In addition, a spurious mode can also occur if the position and orientation of a crack are
freely allowed within the element.
Recently, a new method known as the element-free Galerkin (EFG) method,
proposed by Belytschko et al. (1994), has been developed for solving mechanical
problems. Difficulties and shortcomings of FEM in preparation of data, remeshing and
refining elements are reduced by these newly developed strategies, in which the definition
of element connectivity is not requires. The EFG method, which appears to be a viable
alternative for future, play a very significant role in solving problems which otherwise
require frequent remeshing of problem domain. The core concept of the EFG method is
that there is no longer a finite element mesh. Only nodal data and boundary descriptions
are required to formulate the discrete Galerkin equations. Defined by Lancaster and
Salkauskas (1981), the moving least-square (MLS) approximation which originated in
scattered data fitting is chosen to construct EFG shape functions and their derivatives. A
background-cell structure, which is independent of nodal points, is employed for the
procedure to compute the integral expression. The stiffness of a problem domain is
numerically approximated by integrating weak form of the governing partial differential
equations over the entire domain. The integration typically employs a high order Guassian
integration to accurately integrate the EFG shape functions.
Because of the outstanding features in the EFG method, not only is mesh creation
time saved, but also mesh recreation time is eliminated. To refine the problem in an area of
interest for improving the performance and accuracy of the solutions, one needs only to
add nodes to areas where stress gradient is high, such as crack tips and other areas where
stresses tend to concentrate. There is no restriction of mesh entanglements, because of the
absence of predefined element connectivity between nodes, leading to an allowance of
large deformations and unrestrained movement of nodes. Furthermore, while, in some
problems, the satisfaction of high continuity requirements in trial functions for FEM is
burdensome, the highly continuous shape functions employed in the EFG method offer
considerable potential to satisfy such condition.
Based on the advantage that the EFG method requires no element, it is an excellent
choice for solving crack propagation problems. With the EFG method, a growing crack can
be modeled simply by extending the surfaces that correspond to the crack without the need
for remeshing. Several extensions of the EFG method to model crack propagation have
been proposed (Belytschko et al., 1995a; Belytschko et al., 1995b; Belytschko and
Tabbara, 1996; Hussler-Combe and Korn, 1998; Xu and Saigal, 1998; Belytschko and
Fleming, 1999; Krysl and Belytschko, 1999; Xu and Saigal, 1999; Rao and Rahman, 2000;
Lee and Yoon, 2004). However, all of these works are related to brittle cracks with no
traction force between crack surfaces.
It is commonly accepted that the linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) is not
directly applicable to quasi-brittle materials such as concrete, rock, and ceramics due to a
large nonlinear fracture process zone ahead of the crack tip. In quasi-brittle materials, the
presence of the fracture process zone has been recognized as a dominant phenomenon
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which cannot be ignored. In general, the fracture process zone refers to a region of
microevents ahead of the crack tip. Fig. 1.1 shows the gradual transition from intact
material to fully open traction-free crack. The traction-free crack is referred to as the true
crack, and the region between the intact material and the true crack is the fracture process
zone. This zone consists of a microcracking zone and a bridging zone. In the
microcracking zone, the initiation of microcracks and their growth are dominant. In the
bridging zone, the stress is transmitted by the aggregate interlocking or fiber
reinforcement. In the fracture process zone, the stored energy is gradually dissipated.
In modeling the fracture process of concrete, it is, therefore, necessary to take into
account the presence and the effect of the fracture process zone. Many nonlinear fracture
models have been proposed. Among them, one of the most well-known fracture models is
the fictitious crack model (FCM) by Hillerborg et al. (1976). This model represents the
fracture process zone by integrating the effects from all the mechanisms within the zone
into a fictitious crack ahead of the true crack. Across the surfaces of the fictitious crack,
cohesive stresses are assumed to be transmitted. In the fictitious crack model, the
relationships between these transmitted stresses and the crack opening and sliding
displacements are considered as material properties. When mode I cracking is dominant, it
is sufficient to consider only the transmitted tensile stress. In this case, the relationship
between the transmitted tensile stress and the crack opening displacement is required.
Even with the aforementioned difficulties intrinsic to the use of FEM in modeling
crack problems, the implementation of the fictitious crack model using FEM has been
investigated by many researchers (Bocca et al., 1991; Alfaiate et al., 1997; Glvez et al.,
2002; Mos and Belytschko, 2002; Prasad and Krishnamoorthy, 2002; Yang and Chen,
2004). When remeshing is used, it is found that a successful FEM based on the fictitious
crack model must have four key features: a proper crack propagation criterion, an efficient
remeshing procedure, an accurate mesh-mapping technique to transfer structural responses
of an old FE mesh to a new one, and a robust and efficient numerical solution technique to
solve nonlinear equation systems characterized with snap-through or snap-back.
A proper crack propagation criterion is needed to determine the direction in which
a crack will propagate. Usually, the fictitious crack model assumes that the crack
propagates when the maximum principal tensile stress ahead of the crack tip reaches the

Fig. 1.1 Fracture process zone in quasi-brittle materials


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tensile strength. An efficient remeshing procedure is necessary for discrete crack modeling
to accommodate crack propagation. The remeshing procedures can generally be classified
into two categories, i.e., the remove-rebuild and the insert-separate algorithms. In the
remove-rebuild algorithm, a new crack-tip node is determined by extending a specified
crack growth increment in the calculated propagation direction. The original meshes within
a certain range around the new crack-tip node are removed, and then a complex procedure
is used to form a new crack and regenerate the mesh within this range. In the insertseparate algorithm, a new edge from the old edge from the old crack-tip node is first
inserted into the local mesh in propagation direction. The insertion point of this edge with
the original mesh is the new crack-tip node. The new crack is then formed by separating
those nodes along the line through the new and old crack-tip nodes. After remeshing, the
mesh-mapping technique is required to transfer the structural state variables of an old FE
mesh to a new mesh as accurately as possible to ensure numerical convergence. The most
widely used mapping methods are inverse isoparametric mapping and direct interpolation.
The modeling of arbitrary crack growth by the EFG method is easier than FEM.
From a modeling viewpoint, the essential feature of the EFG method is that it only requires
a description of the geometry and a set of nodes to construct the discrete equations.
Consequently, cracks can be placed into the domain of interest without problems of going
through boundaries of elements. The EFG method has been used to simulate dynamic
crack growth in concrete by Belytschko et al. (2000). In their proposed method, a crack is
represented by a piecewise linear line which can pass through the domain in any direction.
The crack introduces a discontinuity in the displacement field. For this propose, the
visibility criterion has been used (Belytschko, 1996; Belytschko, 1999). This criterion is
necessary for constructing EFG shape functions and their derivatives near a crack. The
concept of this criterion is that the domain boundaries and any lines of cracks are treated as
opaque objects during the construction of weight functions. To simulate crack growth in
the work of Belytschko et al. (2000), the existing crack is lengthened by extending the
crack line in each incremental step. The extension of the crack is assumed to be of mode I.
Therefore, the extension occurs when the maximum principal tensile stress ahead of the
crack tip reaches the value of the dynamic tensile strength of the material. The direction of
the extension is set to be perpendicular to the direction of this maximum principal tensile
stress. In this work, however, cohesive cracks are not directly included in the weak form of
the system equation. Instead, to simulate a cohesive crack, the transmitted tensile stress on
the crack surfaces is computed from the current crack opening displacement. The obtained
stress is then directly applied to the crack surfaces for the subsequent step of the
calculation. In some respects, the basic model for traction-free cracks in the EFG method
(Belytschko et al., 1995a; Belytschko et al., 1995b; Belytschko et al., 1996) is used for
cohesive cracks without any modification. The cohesion effect on crack surfaces is in fact
obtained by direct application of the transmitted tensile stress on the crack surfaces.
In this study, the application of the EFG method for analysis of cohesive crack
growth in 2D concrete domains is presented. A cohesive curved crack is model by using
straight-line interface elements connected to form the crack. As a result, the crack is
represented by a piecewise linear line. These interface elements permit the constitutive law
of cohesive cracks to be considered efficiently. In this study, the analysis is performed
incrementally. To allow accurate results to be obtained without the need of iteration, the
stiffness equation of the domain is constructed by directly including a term related to the
energy dissipation along the interface elements in the weak form of the global system
equation. The constitutive law of cohesive cracks is then considered through this energy
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term. The validity and efficiency of the proposed method are shown by solving several
numerical problems. The obtained results are compared with FE and experimental results
reported in the literature.
1.2 Statement of Problems
In modeling the fracture process of concrete, it is important to take into account the
presence and the effect of the fracture process zone. Many nonlinear fracture models have
been proposed. One of the most well-known fracture models is the fictitious crack model
proposed by Hillerborg et al. (1976). Although the implementation of the fictitious crack
model using FEM has been improved, there are still many limitations and problems to
represent of discontinuities owing to cracks. The major difficulty is the treatment of
discontinuities that do not coincide with the original mesh lines. At present, the solution for
handling these complications is to regenerate the discretization or remesh the domain of
the problem in each step of the evolution in such a way that the mesh lines remain
coincident with the discontinuities throughout the evolution of the problem. The
difficulties with remeshing problems can be removed by using the element-free Galerkin
method, proposed by Belytschko et al. (1994), in which the definition of element
connectivity is not requires. The EFG method has been successfully used to simulate crack
growth in brittle materials. It will be beneficial if the EFG method is also used to simulate
crack growth is quasi-brittle materials such as concrete. In addition, a direct inclusion of
those terms related to the crack in the system equation will allow the computation to be
performed efficiently.
1.3 Objectives
1. To develop an analysis method for analysis of crack growth in concrete by using
the element-free Galerkin method. The proposed analysis method will explicitly
consider the crack by including the terms related to the crack in the system
equation.
2. To investigate some crack problems in concrete by employing the obtained
analysis method.
1.4 Scope of Study
1. Only two-dimensional problems are considered.
2. The uncracked material is assumed to be linear, elastic and isotropic.