An abrasive-corrosive wear evaluation of some aluminium alloys

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This investigation evaluates the abrasive-corrosive wear behaviour of aluminium alloys with the aim of establishing a data base of performance and guide lines for material optimisation. Wear test apparatus and standard tests developed by previous research programmes were utilised (Noel and Allen, 1981; Barker, 1988). Further tests were then devised for a more detailed characterisation of wear behaviour. Tests conducted showed that aluminium alloys have approximately a quarter to half the abrasion resistance of mild steel. Poor microfracture properties of Al-Si cast alloys were observed as a result of coarse and brittle silicon rich phases contained in the aluminium matrix. Non heat-treatable wrought alloys exhibit ductile micro-deformation characteristics whilst heat-treatable alloys, having the best abrasion resistance, possess better combinations of strength, hardness and toughness. Tests with combined corrosion and wear showed that most aluminium alloys are subject to pitting corrosion due to localised differences in electrode potentials at constituent sites. Higher series alloys with a large number of constituent particles exhibit higher pitting densities. Due to the high electrode potentials of silicon phases and copper and zinc solid solutions, the alloys LM6+Sr, 2014 and 7075 have poor corrosion resistance and are subject to localised and pitting attack. As a consequence the alloys 2014, 7075 and LM6+Sr show a decrease in wear performance under abrasive-corrosive conditions. In contrast the good corrosion resistance of the alloys 5083, 6261 and 7017 provide a significant improvement in wear performance under conditions of long corrosion periods with light abrasive intervals. This study concludes that the abrasion resistance of wrought alloys may be optimised by designing an alloy with a good combination of tensile strength, fracture toughness and hardness together with an intermediate microstructural size distribution of second phase particles in the aluminium matrix. Ageing of heat treatable alloys improves abrasion resistance significantly, peak hardness and strength conditions resulting in optimum abrasion properties.