Relationship between microstructure and stable pitting initiation in aerospace aluminium alloy 2024-T3

Boag, A 2008, Relationship between microstructure and stable pitting initiation in aerospace aluminium alloy 2024-T3, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Applied Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Relationship between microstructure and stable pitting initiation in aerospace aluminium alloy 2024-T3
Author(s) Boag, A
Year 2008
Abstract Aluminium alloys are essential to a variety of industry sectors, particularly transport, where they are used in the production of cars and aeroplanes. However, aluminium alloys are susceptible to degradation through corrosion which can compromise the integrity of components manufactured from this material. Therefore research into the means by which these alloys degrade is important. This thesis aims to understand how one of the more potentially damaging types of corrosion, known as pitting corrosion, occurs in the important aluminium alloy 2024-T3 (AA2024-T3).

In order to study this phenomenon, this thesis first characterises the alloy microstructure in detail, particularly the type and distribution of intermetallic particles since these play an important role in corrosion processes. The microstructure was studied using an electron microprobe analysis of a 5 mm x 5 mm area of AA2024-T3 and some 80,000 particles were characterised. This investigation was one of the most comprehensive studies to date of any aluminium alloy. Of the particles studied, it was found that the major types included the S and θ phases and a number of compositions based around AlCuFeMn and AlCuFeMnSi. Depletion zones were an integral feature of the alloy microstructure. Pair correlation functions were used to determine the degree of clustering and it was found that there was both inter particle as well as intra particle clustering. Inter particle clustering was observed at length scales well beyond 50 µm.

A detailed study of corrosion on AA2024-T3 was undertaken by examining the surface after corrosion over a time period spanning 2.5 minutes to 120 minutes. From this investigation, a hierarchy of the localised corrosion was observed as it was very apparent that particles of particular elemental compositions were more susceptible to attack much sooner than other compositions. Larger corrosion attack sites on the surface, which were called co-operative corrosion, were attributed to intermetallic clustering affects and changes in chemical composition such as Cu-enrichment. These results were used to develop a detailed model of the initiation of stable pitting corrosion in AA2024-T3, which will lead to a better understanding on how to prevent pitting attack on commercially important aluminium alloys.

AA2024-T3 is rarely used in the polished state, for real world applications is it generally finished by mechanical or chemical processing. In the final part of this thesis, the influence of clusters on metal finishing was examined using a standard aluminium chemical deoxidiser. It was found that the etch rate of this deoxidiser increased dramatically with the increase in temperature. Under certain processing conditions only the intermetallic particles are etched out and these retain the history of the spatial distribution of the clustering of the intermetallic particles. This leaves a cluster of 'holes' which could trap metal finishing solution and lead to severe subsurface attack
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Applied Sciences
Keyword(s) Aerospace engineering -- Materials Defects
Aluminium alloys
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