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Ch.1 Analysis of Crack Growth in Concrete by the Element-free Galerkin Method

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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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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.

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