This paper describes the influence of seawater ageing on composites used in a range of marine structures, from boats to tidal turbines. Accounting for environmental degradation is an essential element in the multi-scale modelling of composite materials but it requires reliable test data input. The traditional approach to account for ageing effects, based on testing samples after immersion for different periods, is evolving towards coupled studies involving strong interactions between water diffusion and mechanical loading. These can provide a more realistic estimation of long-term behaviour but still require some form of acceleration if useful data, for 20 year lifetimes or more, are to be obtained in a reasonable time. In order to validate extrapolations from short to long times, it is essential to understand the degradation mechanisms, so both physico-chemical and mechanical test data are required. Examples of results from some current studies on more environmentally friendly materials including bio-sourced composites will be described first. Then a case study for renewable marine energy applications will be discussed. In both cases, studies were performed first on coupons at the material level, then during structural testing and analysis of large components, in order to evaluate their long-term behaviour.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Multiscale modelling of the structural integrity of composite materials’.
One contribution of 22 to a Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Multiscale modelling of the structural integrity of composite materials’.
- Accepted February 24, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.