Micromechanical modelling of strain hardening and tension softening in cementitious composites

  • B. L. Karihaloo
Part of the CISM International Centre for Mechanical Sciences book series (CISM, volume 474)


These lecture notes will describe a procedure for modelling the complete macroscopic response (including strain hardening and tension softening) of two short fibre reinforced cementitious composites and show how their microstructural parameters influence this response. From a mathematical point of view it is necessary to examine how bridging forces imposed by the fibres alter the opening of multiple cracks in elastic solids under unidirectional tensile loading. The strain hardening is essentially due to elastic bridging forces which are proportional to crack opening displacements. After a certain critical crack opening displacement is reached, some fibres progressively debond from the elastic matrix and thereafter provide a residual bridging force by frictional pull-out, while others continue to provide full bridging. This results in a kind of elasto-plastic bridging law which governs the initial tension softening response of the composite.

Besides the usual square-root singularity at crack tips, the elasto-plastic bridging law introduces a logarithmic singularity at the point of discontinuity in the bridging force. These singularities have been analytically isolated, so that only regular functions are subjected to numerical integration. Unbridged multiple crack problems have in the past been solved using double infinite series which have been found to be divergent. Here, a superposition procedure will be described that eliminates the use of double infinite series and thus the problem of divergence. It is applicable to both unbridged and bridged multiple cracks.

These developments will then be used to show how the model of multiple bridged cracks can accurately predict the prolonged nonlinear strain hardening and the initial tension softening response of two cementitious composites. Finally, we will study the transition from the strain hardening to the tension softening behaviour as an instability phenomenon.


Stress Intensity Factor Crack Opening Displacement Cementitious Composite Crack Open Displacement Multiple Crack 
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© CISM, Udine 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. L. Karihaloo
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EngineeringCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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