This paper examines impacts to the side of railroad tank cars by a ram car with a rigid indenter using dynamic, nonlinear finite element analysis (FEA). Such impacts are referred to as shell impacts. Here, nonlinear means elastic-plastic material behavior with large deformations. Several computational issues are addressed. The dynamic response of the shell structure coupled with the sloshing response of fluid inside the tank is characterized through various mesh formulations. Puncture of the tank is calculated using a material failure criterion based on the general state of stress in the shell structure in terms of stress triaxiality. The FEA models were verified and validated in previous work. In the present work, the verified and validated FEA framework is applied to examine the effect of various factors on the structural response of the tank. These factors include shell thickness and indenter geometry.

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