The oxidation behaviour of sintered iron
The oxidation behaviour of porous, sintered iron was studied by thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA), at temperatures between 300oC and 700oC, in a flowing atmosphere of 20% O2/80% N2. Samples for TGA tests were compacted from pure iron powder, at 150MPa to 550MPa, and vacuum sintered at 1120oC. The mass gain of samples during oxidation was recorded continuously for a period of 24 hours. It was found that the oxidation mass gain of PM samples depended on the permeability of the pore structure and the temperature. At low temperatures, the oxidising gas was able to permeate through the pore structure, causing the oxidation of a large active surface area. At high temperatures the active surface area was smaller, because oxygen diffusing into the pore structure, from the external atmosphere, was adsorbed by pore surfaces close to the external surface of the compact. Although the weight of the external oxide scale on compacts increased with increasing oxidation temperature, the absence of oxide in the core porosity in compacts oxidised at higher temperatures resulted in smaller mass gains than were observed for compacts oxidised at lower temperatures. The heat generated by the oxidation of the large active surface areas of porous samples was studied by thermo-calorimetric analysis (TCA). It was determined that this phenomenon could raise the core temperature of samples significantly above the ambient furnace temperature, and affecting the morphology of the oxide scale formed. The effects (on oxidation behaviour at 500oC) of small, elemental alloy additions of Al, Cu, P and Si to pure iron powder were studied. It was found that elements that promote pore rounding during sintering caused a significant reduction in the mass gain rate of the PM alloys, compared to the PM pure iron. The oxidation resistance due to these elements prevented pore closure by oxide growth, so that the active surface area of these PM alloys remained high. The PM alloys were also studied by thermo-mechanical analysis (TMA, dilatometry), to determine their dimensional stability during sintering and subsequent elevated temperature service. The oxidation experiment was augmented with optical and electron microscopy, and X-ray analysis of alloy and scale compositions.