Simulation toolkit for digital material characterization of large image-based microstructures

In this paper, an efficient image-based simulation toolkit for material characterization is presented, which is scalable to work from personal computers to workstations. The effective thermal conductivity, elasticity, and permeability are evaluated employing a computational homogenization framework based on the Finite Element Method (FEM). Two complementary open-source packages are presented: one developed in Python, which can convert digital images into voxel meshes (pyTomoviewer); the other developed in Julia, that can run numerical simulations to compute effective material properties (chpack). Also, a CUDA C version of chpack is provided (chfem_gpu). They were designed to deal with large multi-phase models, so strategies were devised to minimize their memory footprint, while avoiding a high toll on execution time. The voxel-based approach significantly simplifies the FEM meshes and allows efficient matrix-free implementations. In that sense, to handle large linear systems of equations, the element-by-element (EBE) technique is adopted, in conjunction with a low-memory implementation of the Preconditioned Conjugate Gradient (PCG) method. The code was thoroughly tested on an artificial geometry made of a square array of cylinders, for which analytical solutions exist, as well as on a real micro-tomographic reconstruction of FiberFormTM, a carbon preform commonly used in thermal protection systems.

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