Impact comminution of solids due to local kinetic energy of high shear strain rate: I. Continuum theory and turbulence analogy

Zdeněk P. Bažant*, Ferhun C. Caner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The modeling of high velocity impact into brittle or quasibrittle solids is hampered by the unavailability of a constitutive model capturing the effects of material comminution into very fine particles. The present objective is to develop such a model, usable in finite element programs. The comminution at very high strain rates can dissipate a large portion of the kinetic energy of an impacting missile. The spatial derivative of the energy dissipated by comminution gives a force resisting the penetration, which is superposed on the nodal forces obtained from the static constitutive model in a finite element program. The present theory is inspired partly by Grady's model for expansive comminution due to explosion inside a hollow sphere, and partly by analogy with turbulence. In high velocity turbulent flow, the energy dissipation rate gets enhanced by the formation of micro-vortices (eddies) which dissipate energy by viscous shear stress. Similarly, here it is assumed that the energy dissipation at fast deformation of a confined solid gets enhanced by the release of kinetic energy of the motion associated with a high-rate shear strain of forming particles. For simplicity, the shape of these particles in the plane of maximum shear rate is considered to be regular hexagons. The particle sizes are assumed to be distributed according to the Schuhmann power law. The condition that the rate of release of the local kinetic energy must be equal to the interface fracture energy yields a relation between the particle size, the shear strain rate, the fracture energy and the mass density. As one experimental justification, the present theory agrees with Grady's empirical observation that, in impact events, the average particle size is proportional to the (-2/3) power of the shear strain rate. The main characteristic of the comminution process is a dimensionless number Ba (Eq. (37)) representing the ratio of the local kinetic energy of shear strain rate to the maximum possible strain energy that can be stored in the same volume of material. It is shown that the kinetic energy release is proportional to the (2/3)-power of the shear strain rate, and that the dynamic comminution creates an apparent material viscosity inversely proportional to the (1/3)-power of that rate. After comminution, the interface fracture energy takes the role of interface friction, and it is pointed out that if the friction depends on the slip rate the aforementioned exponents would change. The effect of dynamic comminution can simply be taken into account by introducing the apparent viscosity into the material constitutive model, which is what is implemented in the paper that follows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-235
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Dynamic fracture
  • Effective viscosity
  • Fracture mechanics
  • Fragmentation
  • Penetration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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