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Faraday Discuss. 2015;180:361-79. doi: 10.1039/c4fd00251b. Epub 2015 Apr 27.

In situ monitoring of corrosion mechanisms and phosphate inhibitor surface deposition during corrosion of zinc-magnesium-aluminium (ZMA) alloys using novel time-lapse microscopy.

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College of Engineering, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.


In situ time-lapse optical microscopy was used to examine the microstructural corrosion mechanisms in three zinc-magnesium-aluminium (ZMA) alloy coated steels immersed in 1% NaCl pH 7. Preferential corrosion of MgZn(2) lamellae within the eutectic phases was observed in all the ZMA alloys followed by subsequent dissolution of Zn rich phases. The total extent and rate of corrosion, measured using time-lapse image analysis and scanning vibrating electrode technique (SVET) estimated mass loss, decreased as Mg and Al alloying additions were increased up to a level of 3 wt% Mg and 3.7 wt% Al. This was probably due to the increased presence of MgO and Al(2)O(3) at the alloy surface retarding the kinetics of cathodic oxygen reduction. The addition of 1 × 10(-2) mol dm(-3) Na(3)PO(4) to 1% NaCl pH 7 had a dramatic influence on the corrosion mechanism for a ZMA with passivation of anodic sites through phosphate precipitation observed using time-lapse image analysis. Intriguing rapid precipitation of filamentous phosphate was also observed and it is postulated that these filaments nucleate and grow due to super saturation effects. Polarisation experiments showed that the addition of 1 × 10(-2) mol dm(-3) Na(3)PO(4) to the 1% NaCl electrolyte promoted an anodic shift of 50 mV in open circuit potential for the ZMA alloy with a reduction in anodic current of 2.5 orders of magnitude suggesting that it was acting primarily as an anodic inhibitor supporting the inferences from the time-lapse investigations. These phosphate additions resulted in a 98% reduction in estimated mass loss as measured by SVET demonstrating the effectiveness of phosphate inhibitors for this alloy system.


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