Constitutive modeling of solid propellant materials with evolving microstructural damage

F. Xu, N. Aravas, P. Sofronis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solid propellants are composite materials with complex microstructure. In a generic form, the material consists of polymeric binder, crystal oxidizer (e.g., ammonium perchlorate), and fuel particles (e.g., aluminum). Severe stressing and extreme temperatures induce damage which is manifested in particle cracking, dewetting along particle/polymer interfaces, void nucleation and growth. Damage complicates the overall constitutive response of a solid propellant over and above the complexities associated with the differing constitutive properties of the particle and binder phases. Using rigorous homogenization theory for composite materials, we propose a general 3-D nonlinear macroscopic constitutive law that models microstructural damage evolution upon straining through continuous void formation and growth. The law addresses the viscous deformation rate within the framework of additive decomposition of the deformation rate and the concept of back stress is used to improve the model performance in stress relaxation. No restriction is placed on the magnitude of the strains. Experimental data from the standard relaxation and uniaxial tension tests are used to calibrate the model parameters in the case of a high elongation solid propellant. It is emphasized that the model parameters are descriptors of individual phase constitutive response and criticality conditions for particle decohesion which can systematically be determined through experiment. The model is used to predict the response of the material under more complex loading paths and to investigate the effect of crack tip damage on the mechanical behavior of a compact tension fracture specimen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2050-2073
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Constitutive law
  • Homogenization
  • Particle dewetting
  • Viscoelastic
  • Void

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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