Phase-field modeling of fracture for multiphysics problems



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Several recent works have demonstrated that phase-field methods for modeling fracture are capable of yielding complex crack evolution patterns in materials. This includes the nucleation, turning, branching, and merging of cracks subject to a variety of quasi-static and dynamic loadings. What follows will demonstrate how phase-field methods for fracture can be applied to problems involving materials subject to electromechanical coupling and the problem of hydraulic fracture. Brittle fracture is a major concern in piezoelectric ceramics. Fracture propagation in these materials is heavily influenced by the mechanical and electrical fields within the material as well as the boundary conditions on the crack surfaces. These conditions can lead to complex multi-modal crack growth. We develop a continuum thermodynamics framework for a damaging medium with electromechanical coupling subject to four different crack-face boundary conditions. A theory is presented to reproduce impermeable, permeable, conducting, and energetically consistent crack-face boundary conditions, the latter of which requires a finite deformation formulation. A primary application of hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluid into a perforated wellbore with the intention of fracturing the surrounding reservoir and stimulating its overall production. This process involves the coupling of fluid flow with material failure, which must account for the interactions of several cracks, both natural and man-made. Many of the questions on the effects these interactions have on the performance of the frac treatments are unanswered. We develop a continuum thermodynamics framework for fluid flow through a damaging porous medium in order to represent some of the processes and interactions that occur during hydraulic fracturing. The model will be capable of simulating both Stokes flow through cracks and Darcy flow through the porous medium. The flow is coupled to the deformation of the bulk solid medium and the evolution of cracks within the material. We utilize a finite deformation framework in order to capture the opening of the fractures, which can have substantial effects on fluid pressure response. For both models, a fully coupled non-linear finite element formulation is constructed. Several benchmark solutions are investigated to validate the expected behavior and accuracy of the method. In addition, a number of interesting problems are investigated in order to demonstrate the ability of the method to respond to various complexities like material anisotropy and the interaction of multiple cracks.