Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type



Fatigue is a dissipative process and must obey the laws of thermodynamics. In general, it can be hypothesized that the degradation of machinery components is a consequence of irreversible thermodynamic processes that disorder a component, and that degradation is a time dependent phenomenon with increasing disorder. This suggests that entropy —a fundamental parameter in thermodynamics that characterizes disorder— offers a natural measure of component degradation. The majority of the existing methods for prediction of fatigue are limited to the study of a single fatigue mode, i.e., bending or torsion or tension-compression. Further, the variability in the duty cycle in a practical application may render many of these existing methods incapable of reliable performance. During this research, we put forward the idea that fatigue is a degradation process and that entropy is the most suitable index for assessing degradation. That is, tallying irreversible entropy is more reliable and accurate than many of the other methods presented in the existing papers. We show that in processes involving fatigue, for a given material (metal and composite laminate), there exists a unique threshold of the cumulative thermodynamic entropy beyond which fatigue fracture takes place. This threshold is shown to be independent of the type of the fatigue process and the loading history. This exciting result is the basis of the development of a Fatigue Monitoring Unit (FMU) described in this research. We also propose a general procedure for assessment of damage evolution based on the concept of entropy production. The procedure is applicable to both constant- and variable amplitude loading. Empirical relations between entropy generation and damage evolution for two types of metals (Alumunium 6061-T6 and Stainless steel 304) and a woven Glass/Epoxy composite laminate are proposed and their potential for evaluation of fatigue damage are investigated.



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Committee Chair

M. Khonsari, Michael