Glass fabric epoxy resin based composite panels enhanced with carbon nanotubes were subjected to damage while changes in electrical resistance were obtained via embedded electrodes. The purpose of the study was to develop an alternative method to Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT), which generates conductivity field, hence, indicating presence of various damages. The current method provides damage field by taking meticulous measurements of electrical resistance of panel. The method does not monitor conductivity as in the EIT but utilizes electrical resistance changes to detect damage. In the current form, it employs a network of 64 (8 × 8 grid) electrodes distributed evenly in a typical panel instead of the boundary electrodes used in EIT. Even though 64 electrodes were employed, fewer electrodes were sufficient to produce accurate indication of damage location and its size. In previous studies percolation threshold for carbon nanotube-epoxy mixture was determined, which enabled selection of optimal CNT concentration used in manufacturing of glass fiber reinforced panels. The glass fiber reinforced panels were manufactured by vacuum infusion method. The typical panel consisted of 10 glass fabric (S-2) plies. Copper electrodes were embedded beneath the top layer fabric ply. Electrical resistances measurements were obtained using four-probe technique. In the four-probe method, two outer electrodes are used to source a known current through the panel, while the two inner electrodes provide voltage drop needed to compute resistance. The technique minimizes contact resistance between electrodes and the composite, which could be order of magnitude larger than the material resistance being measured. Electrical resistance of cured glass fiber reinforced CNT-epoxy panels was first measured without any damage. Afterwards, damages in form of circular hole were inflicted to the panel starting with 1/8” diameter and enlarging it to 1/2” in steps of 1/8”. After the largest hole, 0.04” (∼1 mm) width cracks emanating from the hole were inflicted. During all measurements, electrical current passing through the source and sink electrodes was kept constant and changes in voltage from the inner probes were recorded. The thrust of the method is to incorporate a curve fit for quantifying the changes in resistance. The method can be applied to damage quantification in panels. The smaller spaced electrode distribution was more sensitive to smaller damages as expected, but the larger spaced electrodes network was sufficiently responsive to smallest damage. Experimental results were fairly good at predicting the damage and its magnitude. Results also indicated a very good agreement with the finite element simulations of the panels. Application of this technique can be a powerful tool for real time structural health monitoring of manufactured composites.

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