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Design and testing of a composite pressure hull for deep autonomous underwater vehicles
  • Moustafa Elkolali ,
  • alex alcocer
Moustafa Elkolali
Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo Metropolitan University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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alex alcocer
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This paper outlines the design and testing process of the hull of a deep small Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), rated at 2000m depth. Many existing AUV pressure housings use aluminum or other isotropic traditional metals, instead of composites due to the complexities of the design of composites at such big load. The research at hand explains the process of design starting from setting the geometrical constraints for the design to mass production. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, none of the previous studies has presented such detailed description of the work. Carbon fiber reinforced epoxy material was chosen thanks to its high strength-to-weight ratio and similarity of its compressibility to sea water. Material characterization was performed to obtain the material properties under loading conditions using a modified method of the Combined Loading Compression testing technique. A specific fixture was designed and manufactured to test filament-wound tubes. An analytical model was developed using MATLAB, a finite element model was created using ABAQUS, and the results of the two models were compared. A set of recommendations was introduced for the stacking sequence to provide the lowest possible stresses, regardless on the diving depth of the vehicle. Afterwards, a quality control set of tests was conducted, including seawater absorption under high pressure and void analysis using destructive and non-destructive tests. Pilot samples were manufactured and tested in a pressure vessel, where it was cycle-tested and inspected using visual and ultrasonic testing. Other samples were fail-tested and showed a failure at ∼93% of the expected failure load. Such range can be considered good to provide safe operation for the vehicle at the designated depth, given that the factor of safety included covers more than 7% of the failure load. The proposed design methodology has shown that CFRE can be safely used even at such high depths.
2022Published in IEEE Access volume 10 on pages 85831-85842. 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3198685