Progress and opportunities in modelling environmentally assisted cracking
Keywords:Multi-physics, hydrogen embrittlement, stress corrosion cracking, phase field, corrosion fatigue
Environmentally assisted cracking phenomena are widespread across the transport, defence, energy and construction sectors. However, predicting environmentally assisted fractures is a highly cross-disciplinary endeavour that requires resolving the multiple material-environment interactions taking place. In this manuscript, an overview is given of recent breakthroughs in the modelling of environmentally assisted cracking. The focus is on the opportunities created by two recent developments: phase field and multi-physics modelling. The possibilities enabled by the confluence of phase field methods and electro-chemo-mechanics modelling are discussed in the context of three environmental assisted cracking phenomena of particular engineering interest: hydrogen embrittlement, localised corrosion and corrosion fatigue. Mechanical processes such as deformation and fracture can be coupled with chemical phenomena like local reactions, ionic transport and hydrogen uptake and diffusion. Moreover, these can be combined with the prediction of an evolving interface, such as a growing pit or a crack, as dictated by a phase field variable that evolves based on thermodynamics and local kinetics. Suitable for both microstructural and continuum length scales, this new generation of simulation-based, multi-physics phase field models can open new modelling horizons and enable Virtual Testing in harmful environments.
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