Principal investigator: Ahmad Najafi

University: Drexel University

Industry partners: TAKTL

Inspired by the complex hierarchical architectures present in many biological structures, Drexel University and TAKTL have teamed up to investigate the fracture behavior of Ultra-High-Performance Cementitious (UHPC) composites to design damage-tolerant structural materials. Studying natural structural materials, which have been perfected over millions of years of evolution by tailoring hard and soft phases in intricate hierarchical architectures, offers a path towards designing lightweight cementitious composites with superior strength and toughness. To accomplish this, we will extract the essential design parameters from natural structures that control the fracture behavior and translate them to UHPC composites. We will utilize advanced computational tools to conduct a multiscale structural analysis by considering an accurate representation of microstructure features in A|UHPC panels. We will also study the fracture behavior of A|UHPC by employing novel damage models developed in the PI’s lab at Drexel University. These damage models allow us to investigate various toughening mechanisms that interact at multiple length scales from the microscopic to the macroscopic. Integrating our computational structural analysis tools with a bioinspired manufacturing framework will lead to a design approach for tailoring the architecture of UHPC at the mesoscale to enhance material toughness and strength simultaneously. In collaboration with our industrial partner, we will use the outcomes of this study to generate the necessary knowledge foundations for creating adequate specifications, codes, and design guidelines for A|UHPC. This is a matter of importance, especially in the case of A|UHPC, which is a hybrid concrete between UHPC and textile reinforced concrete. Here, due to the lack of standards and the building code requirements specifically defined for A|UHPC, new standardized guidelines have yet to be developed. This project will form an academic-Industry partnership based in Pennsylvania that places both the Drexel and TAKTL in the leading edge of structural concretes manufacturing.