The energy-absorbing characteristics of composite tube-reinforced foam structures

R. A. Alia, W. J. Cantwell, G. S. Langdon, S. C.K. Yuen, G. N. Nurick

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This paper reports the findings of a research study investigating the energy-absorbing characteristics of polymer foams reinforced with small carbon fibre reinforced epoxy tubes. Initial attention focuses on establishing the influence of tube diameter on the specific energy absorption (SEA) characteristics of the chamfered CFRP tubes. Here, it is shown that the SEA of the tubes increases rapidly with decreasing diameter/thickness ratio, with the highest values being close to 93 kJ/kg. Similar tests were conducted at dynamic rates of strain, where it was observed that the measured values of SEA were lower than the corresponding quasi-static data, possibly due to rate-sensitive effects in the delamination resistance of the composite material. In the next stage of the investigation, the composite tubes were embedded in a range of polymer foams in order to establish the influence of both tube arrangement and foam density on the crush behaviour of these lightweight structures. In addition, a limited number of blast tests have been undertaken on structures based on these core materials. Here, extensive crushing of the composite tubes was again observed, suggesting that these structures should be capable of absorbing significant energy when subjected to this severe loading condition. Finally, the results of these tests are compared with previously-published data from studies on a range of different cores materials. Here, it has been shown that the energy-absorbing characteristics of these systems exceed values associated with other core materials, such as aluminium honeycombs, polymer honeycombs and metal foams.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalComposites Part B: Engineering
StatePublished - May 2014


  • A. Carbon fibre
  • A. Foams
  • D. Mechanical testing
  • Energy absorption capability


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