Nonlinear Dynamic Response of Flexible Membrane Structures to Blast Loads


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Virginia Tech


The present work describes the finite element (FE) modeling and dynamic response of lightweight, deployable shelters (tent) to large external blast loads. Flexible shelters have been used as temporary storage places for housing equipments, vehicles etc. TEMPER Tents, Small Shelter System have been widely used by Air Force and Army, for various field applications. These shelters have pressurized Collective Protection System (CPS), liner, fitted to the frame structure, which can provide protection against explosives and other harmful agents. Presently, these shelter systems are being tested for the force protection standards against the explosions like air-blast. In the field tests carried out by Air Force Research Laboratory, it was revealed that the liner fitted inside the tent was damaged due to the air blast explosion at some distant from the structure, with major damage being on the back side of the tent. The damage comprised of tearing of liner and separation of zip seals. To investigate the failure, a computational approach, due to its simplicity and ability to solve the complex problems, is used.

The response of any structural form to dynamic loading condition is very difficult to predict due to its dependence on multiple factors like the duration of the loading, peak load, shape of the pulse, the impulse energy, boundary conditions and material properties etc. And dynamic analysis of shell structures pose even much greater challenge. Obtaining solution analytically presents a very difficult preposition when nonlinearity is considered. Therefore, the numerical approach is sought which provide simplicity and comparable accuracy.

A 3D finite element model has been developed, consisting of fabric skin supported over the frames based on two approaches. ANSYS has been used for obtaining the dynamic response of shelter against the blast loads. In the first approach, the shell is considered as a membrane away from its boundaries, in which the stress couple is neglected in its interior region. In the second approach, stress coupling is neglected over the whole region. Three models were developed using Shell 63, Shell 181 and Shell 41. Shell 63 element supports both the membrane only and membrane-bending combined options and include stress stiffening and large deflection capabilities. Shell 181 include all these options as Shell 63 does and also, accounts for the follower loads. Shell 41 is a membrane element and does not include any bending stiffness. This element also include stress stiffening and large deflection capabilities.

A nonlinear static analysis is performed for a simple plate model using the elements, Shell 41 and Shell 63. The membrane dominated behavior is observed for the shell model as the pressure load is increased. It is also observed that the higher value of Young's modulus (E) increases the stresses significantly.

Transient analysis is a method of determining the structural response due to time dependent loading conditions. The full method has been used for performing the nonlinear transient analysis. Its more expensive in terms of computation involved but it takes into account all types of nonlinearities such as plasticity, large deflection and large strain etc. Implicit approach has been used where Newmark method along with the Newton-Raphson method has been used for the nonlinear analysis. Dynamic response comprising of displacement-time history and dynamic stresses has been obtained. From the displacement response, it is observed that the first movement of the back wall is out of the tent in contrast to the other sides whose first movement is into the tent. Dynamic stresses showed fluctuations in the region when the blast is acting on the structure and in the initial free vibration zone.

A parametric study is performed to provide insight into the design criteria. It is observed that the mass could be an effective means of reducing the peak responses. As the value of the Young's Modulus (E) is increased, the peak displacements are reduced resulting from the increase in stiffness. The increased stiffness lead to reduced transmitted peak pressure and reduced value of maximum strain. But a disproportionate increase lead to higher stresses which could result in failure. Therefore, a high modulus value should be avoided.



shelters. blast loads, shells, membranes, structural dynamics, nonlinear static and dynamic analysis, flexible structures, finite element modeling