Microcracks in concrete can coalesce into larger cracks that further propagate under repetitive load cycles. Complex process of crack formation and growth are essentially involved in the failure mechanism of concrete. Understanding the crack formation and propagation is one of the core issues in fatigue damage evaluation of concrete materials and components. In this regard, a numerical model was formulated to simulate the thorough failure process, ranging from microcracks growth, crack coalescence, macrocrack formation and propagation, to the final rupture. This model is applied to simulate the fatigue rupture of three-point bending concrete beams at different stress levels. Numerical results are qualitatively consistent with the experimental observations published in literature. Furthermore, in the framework of damage mechanics, one damage variable is defined to reflect stiffness reduction caused by fatigue loading. S-N curve is subsequently computed and the macroscopic damage evolution of concrete beams are achieved. By employing the combined approaches of fracture mechanics and damage mechanics, made possible is the damage evolution of concrete beam as well as the microscopic multiple fatigue crack simulation. The proposed approach has the potential to be applied to the fatigue life assessment of materials and components at various scales in engineering practice.
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