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Person# Lorenzo Benedetti

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Finite element method

The finite element method (FEM) is a popular method for numerically solving differential equations arising in engineering and mathematical modeling. Typical problem areas of interest include the tr

Experiment

An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a hypothesis, or determine the efficacy or likelihood of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effe

Avalanche

An avalanche is a rapid flow of snow down a slope, such as a hill or mountain.
Avalanches can be set off spontaneously, by factors such as increased precipitation or snowpack weakening, or by ext

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The safety verification of in-plane loaded masonry panels requires the evaluation of at least three different collapse conditions connected with overturning, shear sliding, and shear - compression failure at the panels' toe. In reinforced panels, the resisting models should even take into consideration the presence of localized or distributed reinforcement. In general, the masonry is considered a Mohr-Coulomb type material not resisting tension and plastic in compression, while reinforcement is a brittle elastic material resisting tensile forces only [1]. The ultimate limit state is however linked with a given subset of compressed material inside the panel area. The compressed sections are therefore varying inside the panel as a function of the applied load. The collapse occurs in shear or overturning when one peculiar compressed section reduces to its minimum [2]. By equating the capacity in shear and overturning it is possible to derive an explicit statement of the minimum length of the compressed section which will be activated by a simultaneous failure in shear and overturning. A simple inequality is detecting the real failure mode and this allows directly computing the failure load resultant. The procedure is very fast and can deal even with localized or distributed reinforcement layers such as fiber strips or mesh reinforced mortars. Some examples of panels discussed in the literature show the effectiveness of the proposed verification procedure.

Lorenzo Benedetti, Johan Alexandre Philippe Gaume

Dry-snow slab avalanche release is the result of failure initiation in a weak snowpack layer buried below a cohesive snow slab, which is then followed by rapid crack propagation. The Propagation Saw Test (PST) is a field experiment which allows to evaluate the critical crack length for the onset of crack propagation and the propagation distance. Although a widely used method, the results from this field test are difficult to interpret in practice because (i) the fracture process in multilayer systems is very complex and only partially explored and (ii) field data is typically insufficient to establish direct causal links between test results and snowpack characteristics. Furthermore, although several studies have focused on the critical crack length assuming linear elasticity for the slab, it still remains unclear how the complex interplay between the weak layer failure and slab fracture impacts the outcome of the PST. To address this knowledge gap, an analytical model of the PST was developed, based on the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, in order to compute both the critical crack length and the propagation distance as a function of snowpack properties and beam geometry (e.g. beam length and slab height). This work aims to create a link between the two main outcomes of the PST, namely full propagation (END) and slab fracture (SF), and the quantitative results of critical crack length and propagation distance. Moreover, introducing empirical relationships based on laboratory experiments (Scapozza, 2004; Sigrist, 2006) between the elastic modulus, the tensile strength and slab density, it is possible to describe the onset of slab fracture for a given geometry of the PST using only the slab density. As a result, the model allows to reproduce the increasing trend of the propagation distance with increasing slab density, as observed in field experiments. For slabs characterized by low density, slab fracture occurs before reaching the critical crack length (SFb); for intermediate density values, slab fracture occurs after the onset of crack propagation in the weak layer (SFa); then, large densities lead to full propagation in the weak layer without slab fracture (END).

2018Lorenzo Benedetti, Nicolò Riva

The EPFLoop team from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has developed a capsule thanks to which it won the 3rd place in SpaceX's Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2018. COMSOL Multiphysics was used to analyze and study the pressurized systems of the pod. Three pressure vessels (PVs) of different shape and structure are used to store electrical components in a pressurized environment at 1 bar, meanwhile the external environment is at 8 mbar. The PVs' failure under load was studied using a stationary simulation and shell finite elements in order to represent the plies of carbon fiber-epoxy and foam. The load conditions were the maximum deceleration (2.6 g), the weight of the internal components and the internal pressure of 1 bar. The aim was to design the plies layering with a minimum Tsai-Wu safety factor of 2 everywhere. A parametric sweep was then performed to estimate the maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP, corresponding to a safety factor equal to 2) and the BURST pressure (pressure for which the safety factor is less equal than 1 and failure is imminent). To ensure the normal functioning of electronic components, analyses were done to ensure that the temperature inside the PVs wouldn't be greater than 50°C due to internal electronic heat loads. This has been done by coupling the Heat Transfer in Solid Module with the Laminar Flow Module in order to take into account convection effects. The simulations were validated by measurements during experimental tests. Experimental results confirmed the design and analyses carried out using COMSOL Multiphysics®.

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