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An assessment of the effect of progressive water absorption on the interlaminar strength of unidirectional carbon/epoxy composites using acoustic emission

Almudaihesh, Faisel, Grigg, Stephen, Holford, Karen ORCID:, Pullin, Rhys ORCID: and Eaton, Mark ORCID: 2021. An assessment of the effect of progressive water absorption on the interlaminar strength of unidirectional carbon/epoxy composites using acoustic emission. Sensors 21 (13) , 4351. 10.3390/s21134351

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Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Polymers (CFRPs) in aerospace applications are expected to operate in moist environments where carbon fibres have high resistance to water absorption; however, polymers do not. To develop a truly optimised structure, it is important to understand this degradation process. This study aims to expand the understanding of the role of water absorption on fibrous/polymeric structures, particularly in a matrix-dominant property, namely interlaminar strength. This work used Acoustic Emission (AE), which could be integrated into any Structural Health Monitoring System for aerospace applications, optical strain measurements, and microscopy to provide an assessment of the gradual change in failure mechanisms due to the degradation of a polymer’s structure with increasing water absorption. CFRP specimens were immersed in purified water and kept at a constant temperature of 90 °C for 3, 9, 24 and 43 days. The resulting interlaminar strength was investigated through short-beam strength (SBS) testing. The SBS values decreased as immersion times were increased; the decrease was significant at longer immersion times (up to 24.47%). Failures evolved with increased immersion times, leading to a greater number of delaminations and more intralaminar cracking. Failure modes, such as crushing and multiple delaminations, were observed at longer immersion times, particularly after 24 and 43 days, where a pure interlaminar shear failure did not occur. The observed transition in failure mechanism showed that failure of aged specimens was triggered by a crushing of the upper surface plies leading to progressive delamination at multiple ply interfaces in the upper half of the specimen. The crushing occurred at a load below that required to initiate a pure shear failure and hence represents an under prediction of the true SBS of the sample. This is a common test used to assess environmental degradation of composites and these results show that conservative knockdown factors may be used in design. AE was able to distinguish different material behaviours prior to final fracture for unaged and aged specimens suggesting that it can be integrated into an aerospace asset management system. AE results were validated using optical measurements and microscopy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 1424-8220
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 June 2021
Date of Acceptance: 23 June 2021
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2023 07:25

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