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Energy Concepts for Fracture

by Jireh J. Yue
In selecting materials for a given application one must have an idea of the final geometry and the dimension of the part. Under certain environmental conditions
and given loadings the part must be able to function properly. One way to make this decision is by comparing the failure criterion to a critical load factor.
Fracture is a very complex process that involves the nucleation and growth of micro and macro voids or cracks, mechanisms of dislocations, flip bands, and
propagation of microcracks, and the geometry of the material. There has been no one set theory "set in stone" to handle all of these factors in fracture. However
there are many proposed theories used to understand the complex nature of fracture in the material. One such class of theories involved energy concepts. In
order to understand the complex nature of fracture in materials, one must understand the nature and character of initial cracking. This is only possible if we know
the distribution of internal stressed in the body, but also the stress needed to initiate fracture and the length of the crack as shown in Figure 1.

Fig. 1 A plate with a crack growing with an applied stress.

(From Parton V.Z., Fracture Mechanics from Theory to Practice, Pg. 69, Figure 48, Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.)
Griffith Theory of Brittle Fracture
One such introductory model was developed by a young English scientist called AA Griffith. He recognized the macroscopic potential energy of the system
consisting of the internal stored elastic energy and the external potential energy of the applied loads, varied with the size of the crack. Therefore fracture is
associated with the consumption of energy.

U : the total potential energy of the system

U0: the elastic energy of the uncracked plate.
Ua: the decrease in the elastic energy caused by introducing the crack in the plate.
Ug: the increase in the elastic-surface energy caused by the formation of the crack surfaces.
Once a crack is propagated throughout a material as illustrated in Figure 1. , the extension of the crack resulted in the creation of new crack surface. New free
surfaces are created at the faces of a crack, which increases the surface energy of the system. Such new surfaces can be seen in Figure 2 and Figure 3.

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Fig. 2 Fractograph of ductile cast iron showing a transgranular fracture surface.

(From Callister, W.D. Jr. , Materials Science and Engineering : An Introduction, Pg. 187, Figure 8.6, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.)

Fig. 3 Fractograph of an intergranular fracture surface.

(From Callister W.D. Jr., Materials Science and Engineering : An Introduction , Pg. 187 Figure 8.6, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.)
One such model used to demonstrate the propagation of a crack in a brittle material is called the elastic strain energy model.

E: modulus of elasticity
gs = specific surface energy
a = one half the length of an internal crack
In today's material world many materials also experience some plastic deformation during fracture during fracture. Therefore the crack extension involves more
than just an increase in surface energy. gp represents a plastic deformation energy associated with crack extension. gs + gp can be substituted into the above
equation to model materials that undergo some plastic deformation.

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G: the strain energy release rate.

gp: plastic deformation energy associated with crack extension.
gs : the specific surface energy
Please note that crack propagation can only occurs when it exceeds the critical value of G.
Example Problem
If the specific surface energy for polmethyl acrylate is 36.5 ergs/ cm2 and its corresponding modulus of elasticity is 2.38 GPa. Compute the critical stress required
for propagation of an internal crack length is 0.03m.

(36.5 ergs / cm2)*(1 Joule / 1.0 * 107 ergs)*(100 cm / m)2 = .0365 J / m2
2.38 GPa = 2.38 *109 Pa

sc= (2(2.38*109 Pa)(0.0365 J / m2 ) / ( * (0.03m)/2) ) ^ (1/2)

sc= 60,719 Pa
Griffith - Orowan - Irwin Failure Criteria
The process of fracture consists of crack initiation and crack propagation. The condition necessary for crack initiation is if the crack-like cut is able to propagate.
If there was a perfectly elastic body with a slit already present. If the slit is to propagate thereby increasing its surface, the slit will need a certain amount of
energy. This energy is called the energy of fracture. With the formation of a new surface the strain in the corresponding area will be reduced which results in the
release of corresponding elastic energy from the body.

dt: the energy of fracture necessary for the formation of a new fracture surface area.
G :the energy released into the crack tip per unit area of the crack (rate of elastic strain energy release).
d : the crack growth increment.
Energy Release Rate
The energy release rate often denoted by G is the amount of energy, per unit length along the crack edge, that is supplied by the elastic energy in the body and by
the loading system in creating the new fracture surface area. In terms of the stress intensity factor there is relationship called the Irwin relationship. Note that
there our two models for the stress intensity factor one for plane stress and plane strain.
(Plane Strain)
G: the energy release rate.
n: Poisson's Ratio.
K: the stress intensity factor.
E: the modulus of elasticity.
G=K2/E (Plane Stress)
G: the energy release rate.
K: the stress intensity factor.
E: the modulus of elasticity.
The total energy release rate in combined mode cracking can be obtained by adding the energies from the different modes (Figure 4.),

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Fig. 4 Three modes of crack surface displacements Mode I (opening or tensile mode), Mode II (sliding mode), and Mode III (tearing mode).
(From Parton V.Z. Fracture Mechanics from Theory to Practice Pg. 66 Figure 47, Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.)

These models by Irwin started the foundation of linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM). This discipline of fracture mechanics characterizes the state of material
loading over a volume of sufficient size that the fracture strength of many engineering materials can be given in terms of the critical (maximum) stress intensity
factor, KIC.

Fig. 5 A cracked body with a force (F) and (a) is the crack length.
(From Portela A., Dual Boundary Element Analysis of Crack Growth, Pg. 26 Figure 2.4, Computational Mechanics Publications.)
Shown in the figure is a cracked body with a force being exerted on it and the propagation of a crack (Figure 5.).

P: the potential energy of the external forces.

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F: the generalized force per unit thickness.

D: the corresponding load-point displacement.
According to Clapyron's Theorem, the strain energy is:

U: the strain energy.

F: the generalized force per unit thickness.
D: the corresponding load-point displacement.
Crack Speed and Kinetic Energy
In the previous sections, we assumed that the crack growth was slow. Fracture instability occurs when the energy release rate G remains larger than the crack
resistance. The surplus of energy is converted into kinetic energy which governs the speed at which the crack will propagate through the material. The total
amount of energy that is converted into kinetic energy after a crack growth a.

Ekin: the kinetic energy.

G: the energy release rate.
R: the force of crack resistance.
The assumptions with the following model are:
1. crack propagation takes place under constant stress
2. the elastic energy release rate does not depend upon crack speed
3. the crack growth resistance R is constant
The crack resistance is a function of the plastic behavior of the material at the crack tip and of its fracture characteristics. This particular property is dependent
upon strain rate. At the tip of a crack moving at high velocity the strain rates are very high, and it must be expected that the material behaves in a more brittle
manner the higher the crack speed.
Crack Growth using Energy Theorems
So far we have assumed that the crack resistive force is independent of crack length. This is true only for crack under plain strain. For plane stress, the crack
resistance varies with amount of crack growth. When a particular specimen is loaded, the crack starts propagating, a further increase of the stress is required to
maintain crack growth, although the crack is longer it can withstand a higher stress. During stable crack growth the energy release rate is equal to the crack
resistive force. As can be seen in Figure 6. the growth rate of the crack increases with an increase in crack size. For example in a ductile material the energy
required for crack growth is the same as the amount of work for formation of a new plastic zone at the tip of the advancing crack, plus the work required for
initiation, growth and coalescence of microvoids.

Fig. 6 A graph of the increase of growth rate with crack size.

(From Broek D., Elementary Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Pg. 145 Figure 6.2, Kluwer Academic Publishers Group.)
Fracture Energy of Specimen of Different Sizes
In a plastic, cylindrical test specimen deforms in a way that the degrees of deformation is nearly constant along the whole cross section. Research has shown that
deformation of geometrically similar specimens of different diameters made from similar material is the same in any phase of the tensile test and not only the
reductions of area but the contour lines in the vicinity of necking. The absolute value of the stress is independent of the size is the strain rate is constant.
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A proportion law of L. Gillemot states that to the same deformation of two geometrically similar specimens from similar material, similar specific energy is
necessary if the cross head speed is proportional with the diameters of the specimen.

U1 and U2: cross head speeds applied during the tensile test.
d1 and d2: diameters of the specimen.
Impact Energy Testing Methods
In order to learn more about the complex nature of fracture in materials impact testing conditions were established. The conditions that were judged the most
relative to the potential for fracture are:
1. deformation at low temperatures
2. a high strain rate (rate of deformation)
3. a triaxial stress state
Two tests called the Charpy and Izod tests are used to measure the impact energy (also known as notch toughness). These tests are important, because one
can obtain information to model the behavior of actual structures so that the laboratory test results can be used to predict service performance under different
With the Charpy V-notch (CVN) technique, the specimen is in the shape of a bar of square cross section with a V notch. The load is applied as an impact below
from a weighted pendulum hammer that is released from a position h. The pendulum with a knife edge strikes and fractures the specimen at the notch. The
pendulum continues its swing, rising to a maximum height h', which is lower than h. The energy necessary to fracture the test piece is directly calculated from the
difference in initial and final heights of the swinging pendulum (Figure 7.). The impact energy (toughness) from the Charpy test is related to the area under the total
stress-strain curve. The difference in the Charpy and the Izod techniques is in the way that the specimens are supported in the apparatus machine.
One can expect that materials with large values of strength and ductility to have large impact fracture energies. One has to also note that the impact data are very
sensitive to test conditions such as temperature, specimen size, and notch configuration as can be seen in Figure 8.

Fig. 7 Illustration of Charpy and Izod Impact Tests.

(From Callister W.D. Jr., Materials Science and Engineering : An Introduction , Pg. 198 Figure 8.13, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.)
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Fig. 8 A graph of the temperature dependence on the Charpy V-notch impact energy (curve A) and percent shear fracture (curve B).
(From Callister W.D. Jr., Materials Science and Engineering : An Introduction , Pg. 199 Figure 8.14, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.)
1. Callister, William, " Materials Science and Engineering : An Introduction", John Wiley and Sons, New York, New York 1994.
2. Portela A., "Dual Element Analysis of Crack Growth", Computational Mechanics Publications, 1993.
3. Parton V.Z., " Fracture Mechanics : From Theory to Practice", Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1992.
4. Rolfe, Stanley, Barson John. "Fracture and Fatigue Control in Structures", Prentice Hall, Inc., 1977.
5. Broek, D. "Elementary Engineering Fracture Mechanics", Kluwer Academic Publishers Group, 1982.
6. Shackelford, J. " Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers", Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985.
For information relating to the example problem:

Table of Contents
Submitted by Jireh J. Yue
Virginia Tech Materials Science and Engineering
Last updated: 5/4/97

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