Multiscale modeling of solid propellants: From particle packing to failure

K. Matouš, H. M. Inglis, X. Gu, D. Rypl, T. L. Jackson, P. H. Geubelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a theoretical and computational framework for modeling the multiscale constitutive behavior of highly filled elastomers, such as solid propellants and other energetic materials. Special emphasis is placed on the effect of the particle debonding or dewetting process taking place at the microscale and on the macroscopic constitutive response. The microscale is characterized by a periodic unit cell, which contains a set of hard particles (such as ammonium perchlorate for AP-based propellants) dispersed in an elastomeric binder. The unit cell is created using a packing algorithm that treats the particles as spheres or discs, enabling us to generate packs which match the size distribution and volume fraction of actual propellants. A novel technique is introduced to characterize the pack geometry in a way suitable for meshing, allowing for the creation of high-quality periodic meshes with refinement zones in the regions of interest. The proposed numerical multiscale framework, based on the mathematical theory of homogenization, is capable of predicting the complex, heterogeneous stress and strain fields associated, at the microscale, with the nucleation and propagation of damage along the particle-matrix interface, as well as the macroscopic response and mechanical properties of the damaged continuum. Examples involving simple unit cells are presented to illustrate the multiscale algorithm and demonstrate the complexity of the underlying physical processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1694-1708
Number of pages15
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • A. Particle-reinforced composites
  • B. Debonding
  • B. Microstructure
  • C. Damage mechanics
  • Mathematical homogenization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • General Engineering


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