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Title: Formation of sol-gel coatings on aluminium alloys
Author: Feng, Zuwei
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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Organically modified sol-gel coatings have been investigated as potential replacements for chromate conversion coating of AA1050 and AA2024 aluminium alloys. The coatings were prepared by a combination of a completely hydrolysable precursor of tetra-n-propoxyzirconium (TPOZ), with a partially hydrolysable precursor of glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane (GPTMS). GPTMS contains organic functional groups, which are retained in the sol-gel coatings after the hydrolysis-condensation process. Different process parameters, e.g. GPTMS/TPOZ ratios, withdrawal speeds, solvent water concentrations, and curing temperatures were studied. Coatings produced using a low GPTMS/TPOZ ratio and a high withdrawal speed generated significant cracks due to the shrinkage of the coatings. It was found that increase of organic moieties reduced the shrinkage of the coatings and the tendency for crack formation. By controlling process parameters and ratios of organic and inorganic moieties, crack-free sol-gel coatings from 0.1 μm to 9 μm thick can be achieved. The sol-gel coatings formed are amorphous and contain organic epoxy-ether retained silicon oxide, silicon hydroxide, zirconium oxide, zirconium hydroxide, and zirconium acetate. The Si/Zr ratios of resultant sol-gel coatings are proportional to the initial GPTMS/TPOZ ratio. Cerium oxide nanoparticles were successfully incorporated into sol-gel coatings with a single layer and double layer sol-gel process. Through the dip coating process, crack-free sol-gel coatings, of varied thickness, were developed on different aluminium substrate, including electropolished superpure aluminium, magnetron sputtered aluminium with varied copper contents from 0 to 30 wt.%, and commercial AA1050 and 2024 aluminium alloys. Sol-gel coatings formed on commercial AA1050 and 2024 aluminium alloys revealed a significant passivation in 3.5 wt.% sodium chloride solution during anodic polarisation when the sol-gel coating is more than 1 µm thick and proper surface pretreatments of the alloys were used. Corrosion tests by immersion in 3.5 wt% sodium chloride solution and by salt spray in 5 wt.% sodium chloride solution revealed that sol-gel coatings successfully protected AA2024 aluminium alloy against the aggressive environment and have the potential to replace chromate containing coating systems.
Supervisor: Thompson, George Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: sol-gel coatings ; aluminium alloys ; corrosion protection