In-situ X-ray Computed Tomography Characterisation and Mesoscale Image Based Fracture Modelling of Concrete

  • Wenyuan Ren

Student thesis: Phd


This study develops a 3D meso-scale fracture characterisation and modelling framework for better understanding of the failure mechanisms in concrete, by combining in-situ micro-scale X-ray computed tomography (XCT) experiments and XCT image-based finite element (FE) simulations.Firstly, sophisticated in-situ XCT experiments are conducted on concrete cubes under Brazilian-like, uniaxial and cyclic compression. Proper procedures for XCT image reconstruction and multi-phasic segmentation are identified. The fracture evolution at different loading stages is characterised and visualised as well as the detailed distributions of aggregates and voids. The Young's moduli of aggregate and cement are obtained by micro-indentation tests and used in XCT-image based asymptotic homogenisation simulations to calculate effective elastic constants of concrete cubes. The XCT technique proves very powerful in characterising and visualising the complicated 3D fracture evolution in concrete.The material properties and the segmented 3D images from the experiments are then used for FE fracture simulations with realistic aggregates, cement and voids. Image-based mesh generation algorithms are developed for 2D in a MATLAB code and identified for 3D in Simpleware. Cohesive interface elements are embedded within cement and aggregate-cement interfaces to simulate the complex nonlinear fracture. Extensive simulations of 40mm and 20mm cubes under compression and tension are carried out. Good agreements are achieved between the load-displacement curves and final crack patterns from the simulations and those from the compressive in-situ XCT tests. The XCT image-based modelling proves very promising in elucidating fundamental mechanisms of complicated crack initiation and propagation in concrete.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorZhenjun Yang (Supervisor)


  • Image-based Modelling
  • X-ray Computed Tomography
  • Cohesive Crack Model
  • concrete
  • Fracture

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