A probabilistic approach for design and certification of self-healing advanced composite structures

H. R. Williams*, R. S. Trask, I. P. Bond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Design and certification of novel self-healing aerospace structures was explored by reviewing the suitability of conventional deterministic certification approaches. A sandwich structure with a vascular network self-healing system was used as a case study. A novel probabilistic approach using a Monte Carlo method to generate an overall probability of structural failure yields notable new insights into design of self-healing systems, including a drive for a faster healing time of less than two flight hours. In the case study considered, a mature self-healing system could be expected to reduce the probability of structural failure (compared to a conventional damage-tolerant construction) by almost an order of magnitude. In a risk-based framework this could be traded against simplified maintenance activity (to save cost) and/or increased allowable stress (to allow a lighter structure). The first estimate of the increase in design allowable stresses permitted by a self-healing system is around 8per cent, with a self-healing system much lighter than previously envisaged. It is thought these methods and conclusions could have wider application to self-healing and conventional highperformance composite structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-449
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part O: Journal of Risk and Reliability
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Certification
  • Composite
  • Impact damage
  • Monte Carlo
  • Sandwich structure
  • Self-healing
  • Self-repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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