Swelling and crack propagation in ionized hydrogels plays an important role in industry application of personal care and biotechnology. Unlike nonionized hydrogel, ionized hydrogel swells up to strain of many 1000's %. In this paper, we present a swelling driven fracture model for ionized hydrogel in large deformation. Flow of fluid within the crack, within the medium, and between the crack and the medium are accounted for. The partition of unity method is used to describe the discontinuous displacement field and chemical potential field, respectively. In order to capture the chemical potential gradient between the gel and the crack, an enhanced local pressure (ELP) model is adopted. The capacity of this numerical model to study the fracture and swelling behaviors of ionized gels with low Young's modulus (< 1 MPa) and low permeability (< 10−16 m4/Ns) is demonstrated. Two numerical examples show the performance of the implemented model (1) swelling with crack opening and (2) swelling with crack propagation. Simulations demonstrate that shrinking of a gel results in decreasing macroscopic stress and simultaneously increasing stress at crack tips. Different scales yield opposite responses, underscoring the need for multiscale modelling. While cracking as a result of external loading can be prevented by reducing the overall stress level in the structure, reducing overall stress levels will not result in reducing the crack initiation and propagation due to swelling.

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