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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Theresa Marie Ahlborn


Strain rate significantly affects the strength of a material. The Split-Hopkinson Pressure Bar (SHPB) was initially used to study the effects of high strain rate (~103 1/s) testing of metals. Later modifications to the original technique allowed for the study of brittle materials such as ceramics, concrete, and rock. While material properties of wood for static and creep strain rates are readily available, data on the dynamic properties of wood are sparse. Previous work using the SHPB technique with wood has been limited in scope to variability of only a few conditions and tests of the applicability of the SHPB theory on wood have not been performed.

Tests were conducted using a large diameter (3.0 inch (75 mm)) SHPB. The strain rate and total strain applied to a specimen are dependent on the striker bar length and velocity at impact. Pulse shapers are used to further modify the strain rate and change the shape of the strain pulse. A series of tests were used to determine test conditions necessary to produce a strain rate, total strain, and pulse shape appropriate for testing wood specimens.

Hard maple, consisting of sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and black maple (Acer nigrum), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) specimens were used to represent a dense hardwood and a low-density soft wood. Specimens were machined to diameters of 2.5 and 3.0 inches and an assortment of lengths were tested to determine the appropriate specimen dimensions. Longitudinal specimens of 1.5 inch length and radial and tangential specimens of 0.5 inch length were found to be most applicable to SHPB testing.

Stress/strain curves were generated from the SHPB data and validated with 6061-T6 aluminum and wood specimens. Stress was indirectly corroborated with gaged aluminum specimens. Specimen strain was assessed with strain gages, digital image analysis, and measurement of residual strain to confirm the strain calculated from SHPB data. The SHPB was found to be a useful tool in accurately assessing the material properties of wood under high strain rates (70 to 340 1/s) and short load durations (70 to 150 μs to compressive failure).