This study was carried out on the background of Sutong Bridge project based on fracture mechanics, aiming at analyzing the growth mechanism of fatigue cracks of a bridge under the load of vehicles. Stress intensity factor (SIF) can be calculated by various methods. Three steel plates with different kinds of cracks were taken as the samples in this study. With the combination of finite element analysis software ABAQUS and the J integral method, SIF values of the samples were calculated. After that, the extended finite element method in the simulation of fatigue crack growth was introduced, and the simulation of crack growth paths under different external loads was analyzed. At last, we took a partial model from the Sutong Bridge and supposed its two dangerous parts already had fine cracks; then simulative vehicle load was added onto the U-rib to predict crack growth paths using the extended finite element method.
The essential parameters for structure integrity assessment in Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics (LEFM) are Stress Intensity Factors (SIFs). The estimation of SIFs can be done by analytical or numerical techniques. The analytical estimation of SIFs is limited to simple structures with non-complicated boundaries, loads and supports. An effective numerical technique for analyzing problems with singular fields, such as fracture mechanics problems, is the extended finite element method (XFEM). In the paper, XFEM is applied to compute an actual stress field in a two-dimensional cracked body. The XFEM is based on the idea of enriching the approximation in the vicinity of the discontinuity. As a result, the numerical model consists of three types of elements: non-enriched elements, fully enriched elements (the domain of whom is cut by a discontinuity), and partially enriched elements (the so-called blending elements). In a blending element, some but not all of the nodes are enriched, which adds to the approximation parasitic term. The error caused by the parasitic terms is partly responsible for the degradation of the convergence rate. It also limits the accuracy of the method. Eliminating blending elements from approximation space and replacing them with standard elements, together with applying shifted-basis enrichment, makes it possible to avoid the problem. The numerical examples show improvements in results when compared with the standard XFEM approach.