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Materials & Structures

Core Expertise
The group of Multi-scale Modeling of Materials and Structures has developed tools and expertise to provide accurate answers in several fields of structural mechanics. These tools help designers and engineers making decision in the design and analysis phases by providing crucial information on the remaining service life, load carrying capacity, performance, weight and cost of their products.
In first instance, an automated and accurate simulation of 3-D crack propagation is made available through the use of advanced Finite Element (FEM) and eXtended Finite Element Methods (XFEM), and helps determining the remaining life of a part in the context of a damage tolerant approach. Another key expertise of the group relies on the technical-economical design of composite structures: a technology where optimization, CAD, meshing, structural mechanics and economical models cross-fertilize to empower cost-effective innovation whilst shortening development cycles. The group also provides high-end engineering expertise on other advanced topics like the multi-scale constitutive modeling of composite materials, multiphase alloys, adhesives. Besides, the group also investigates original numerical predictive tools and methods for the detection and characterization of damage in composite structures, in the frame of a global structural health monitoring approach (SHM). To tackle all these R&D challenges, Cenaero's MMM group continuously improves its capabilities in the field of adaptive meshing, error computation, massively parallel computing applied to structural analysis, which make Cenaero a key partner for future projects involving complex large scale FE models.
Major orientations
The group of Multi-scale Modeling of Materials and Structures (MMM) has gained top-level expertise and made significant progress beyond the state-of-the-art in several major fields of computational mechanics:
  • fracture mechanics and damage tolerant approaches
  • constitutive modeling & scale transitions
  • structural integrity analysis
  • multi-disciplinary optimization (of composite structures) 
  • high performance computing (parallelization of SAMCEF™).
The focus is mainly set on developing advanced numerical methods that will be introduced in automated computational chains in order to solve complex multi-physics, multi-disciplinary, multi-scale problems. For instance, in terms of fundamental numerical developments, the MMM group addresses the following topics:
  • enhancement of the Finite Element (FEM) and eXtended Finite Element Methods (XFEM)
  • extension and correction of the Level Set Method to propagate cracks
  • implementation of robust and efficient parallel solution strategies adapted to up-to-date hardware configurations
  • development of an implementation of sub-structuring and global-local approaches, e.g. the Finite Element Tearing and Interconnecting method (FETI)
  • design of innovative homogenization schemes for heterogeneous materials
  • development of original multi-level approaches for the analysis of adhesively bonded structures.
All these developments are made available through libraries that can be used either in an in-house multi-purpose finite element software (Morfeo), or connected with commercial finite element software.

The following categories of problems have been solved:

  • prediction of the life of structural parts and engine components through the accurate modeling of the propagation of 3D cracks using the sub-structured FE/XFE approach coupled to the Level Set Method
  • prediction of the load carrying capacity of adhesively bonded multi-materials based structures using a global-local then multi-scale approach
  • damage detection and prediction of the severity of damage in composites structures through appropriate modeling of structural health monitoring systems (SHM)
  • technical-economical optimization of composites structures with accurate cost-modeling capabilities
  • materials by design through multi-scale modeling of heterogeneous materials with evolving microstructures (including phase transfromation and ductile fracture)
  • development of domain-decomposition methods and parallel solutions schemes for commercial software towards massively parallel simulations of structures
  • development of computational chains for multi-physics problems, including CAD/CAE link and automatic meshing
The MMM group is currently involved in three FP6 projects (ADVICE, MUSCA, PROHIPP). The ADVICE Strep project – dedicated to the development of a self-powered wireless damage detection and vibration control system – is coordinated by the group itself.
The MMM group is also involved in the SkyWin APC (Avion Plus Composite) project with the implementation of computational chains for the analysis and optimization of a wode range of composite structures.
In the near future, the MMM group will also take part in several FP7 projects (MAAXIMUS, IMAC-Pro, TRIADE).
Future work
The MMM group pursues its current research and development activities in all the aforementionned topics. The focus will also be set on new topics such as the simulation of the curing & residual stress in composites structures, the simulation of impact on various heterogeneous materials, ...
Application Movie
Propagating cracks in industrial geometries under complex and realistic loading (thermal, mechanical, vibrations, ...) remains a challenge. Cenaero is now able to virtually propagate 3D fatigue cracks in any structure with lot more accuracy than ever, this with minimal intervention of the engineer. 
This movie shows the crack propagation in a hydraulic cylinder under cyclic pressure loading. This application is part of the contribution of Cenaero to the FP6 project PROHIPP. The crack initiates at the oil port  and propagates in the symmetry plane, causing oil leakage at the weld. 
The XFEM implemented by Cenaero in the in-house code Morfeo was used to solve this problem.