Melting and solidification of Zinc-Aluminium alloys
Following a scene-setting introduction are detailed reviews of the relevant scientific principles, thermal analysis as a research tool and the development of the zinc-aluminium family of alloys. A recently introduced simultaneous thermal analyser, the STA 1500, its use for differential thermal analysis (DTA) being central to the investigation, is described, together with the sources of support information, chemical analysis, scanning electron microscopy, ingot cooling curves and fluidity spiral castings. The compositions of alloys tested were from the binary zinc-aluminium system, the ternary zinc-aluminium-silicon system at 30%, 50% and 70% aluminium levels, binary and ternary alloys with additions of copper and magnesium to simulate commercial alloys and five widely used commercial alloys. Each alloy was shotted to provide the smaller, 100mg, representative sample required for DTA. The STA 1500 was characterised and calibrated with commercially pure zinc, and an experimental procedure established for the determination of DTA heating curves at 10°C per minute and cooling curves at 2°C per minute. Phase change temperatures were taken from DTA traces, most importantly, liquidus from a cooling curve and solidus from both heating and cooling curves. The accepted zinc-aluminium binary phase diagram was endorsed with the added detail that the eutectic is at 5.2% aluminium rather than 5.0%. The ternary eutectic trough was found to run through the points, 70% Al, 7.1% Si, 545°C; 50% Al, 3.9% Si, 520°C; 30% Al, 1.4% Si, 482°C. The dendrite arm spacing in samples after DTA increased with increasing aluminium content from 130m at 30% to 220m at 70%. The smallest dendrite arm spacing of 60m was in the 30% aluminium 2% silicon alloy. A 1kg ingot of the 10% aluminium binary alloy, insulated with Kaowool, solidified at the same 2°C per minute rate as the DTA samples. A similar sized sand casting was solidified at 3°C per minute and a chill casting at 27°C per minute. During metallographic examination the following features were observed: heavily cored phase which decomposed into ' and '' on cooling; needles of the intermetallic phase FeAl4; copper containing ternary eutectic and copper rich T phase.