Revealing the growth kinetics of atmospheric corrosion pitting in aluminum via in situ microtomography

October 16, 2020

Philip J. Noell (1), Eric J. Schindelholz (1), Michael A. Melia (1)
npj Materials Degradation, 4, Issue 32, October 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41529-020-00136-3


Understanding the mechanistic relationship between the environment, microstructure, and local kinetics of atmospheric corrosion damage remains a central challenge. To address this challenge, this study used laboratory-based X-ray tomography to directly observe attack in-operando over an extended period, enabling insights into the evolving growth kinetics and morphology of individual pits over months of exposure. Damage progression associated with nine pits in a 99.9% pure aluminum wire exposed to chloride salts in humid air was characterized. Most pits grew at a nominally linear rate up until pit death, which occurred within 12–24 h of nucleation. Exceptions to this were observed, with three pits exhibiting bimodal growth kinetics and growing for 40 or more hours. This was explained by secondary droplets that formed near the pits, increasing the cathode area. A corrosion-driven drying mechanism likely contributed to pit death in both cases. Pits first grew into the material followed by lateral expansion.

How Our Software Was Used

Dragonfly was used to process reconstructed tomographs.

Author Affiliation

(1) Sandia National Laboratories, P.O. Box 5800, Albuquerque, NM 87185-0889, USA.