Material Modelling for Structural Analysis of Polyethylene
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The purpose of this work was to develop a practical method for constitutive modelling of polyethylene, based on a phenomenological approach, which can be applied for structural analysis. Polyethylene (PE) is increasingly used as a structural material, for example in pipes installed by trenchless methods where relatively low stiffness of PE reduces the required installation forces, chemical inertness makes it applicable for corrosive environments, and adequate strength allows to use it for sewer, gas and water lines. Polyethylene exhibits time-dependent constitutive behaviour, which is also dependent on the applied stress level resulting in nonlinear stress-strain relationships. Nonlinear viscoelastic theory has been well established and a variety of modelling approaches have been derived from it. In order to be able to realistically utilize the nonlinear modelling approaches in design, a simple method is needed for finding the constitutive formulation for a specific polyethylene type. In this study, time-dependent constitutive relationships for polymers are investigated for polyethylene materials. Creep tests on seven polyethylene materials were conducted and the experimental results indicate strong nonlinear viscoelasticity in the material responses. Creep tests on seven materials were conducted for 24 hours for modelling purposes. However, creep tests up to fourteen days were performed on one material to study long-term creep behaviour. Multiple-stepped creep tests were also investigated. Constant rate (load and strain rate) tensile tests were conducted on two of the seven polyethylene materials. A practical approach to nonlinear viscoelastic modelling utilizing both multi-Kelvin element theory and power law functions to model creep compliance is presented. Creep tests are used to determine material parameters and models are generated for four different polyethylene materials. The corroboration of the models is achieved by comparisons with the results of different tensile creep tests, with one dimensional step loading test results and with test results from load and displacement rate loading.