The role of oxidation in the protection of sliding metal surfaces
This study is concerned with the mechanisms of growth and wear of protective oxide films formed under various tribological conditions. In the study three different tribological systems are examined in each of which oxidational wear is the dominant equilibrium mode. These are an unlubricated steel on steel system sliding at low and elevated temperatures, a boundary lubricated aluminium bronze on steel system and an unlubricated reciprocating sliding 9% Cr steel system operated at elevated temperature, in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide. The results of mechanical measurements of wear and friction are presented for a range of conditions of load, speed and temper.ature for the systems, together with the results of extensive examinations of the surfaces and sub surfaces by various physical methods of analysis. The major part of the thesis, however, is devoted to the development and application of surface models and theoretical quantative expressions in order to explain the observed oxidational wear phenomena. In this work, the mechanisms of formation of load bearing ox ide plateaux are described and are found to be dependent on system geometry and environment. The relative importance of ''in contact" and "out of contact" oxidation is identified together with growth rate constants appropriate to the two situations. Hypotheses are presented to explain the mechanisms of removal of plateaux to form wear debris. The latter hypotheses include the effects of cyclic stressing and dislocation accumulation, together with effects associated with the kinetics of growth and physical properties of the various oxides. The proposed surf ace mode1s have led to the develop ment of quantitative expressions for contact temperature, unlubricated wear rates, boundary lubricated wear rates and the wear of rna ter ial during the transition from severe to mild wear. In general theoretical predictions from these expressions are in very good agreement with experimental values.