Since it does not use any CMR or pollutant compounds, micro-arc oxidation (MAO) also known as plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) is a promising technique to replace conventional anodising processes such as chromic acid anodising or hard anodising to improve the mechanical and corrosion properties of valve metals such as aluminium or magnesium and their alloys.
Though it has been known for many years, this technique is however still not well adapted to comply with the aeronautical requirements. In fact, one of the major challenge is to grow thin oxide layers (< 10 µm), which exhibit low roughness (Ra < 1 µm) and good thickness homogeneity, the latter being of prime importance when processing work pieces with complex shape.
The present program aims at developing a particular technology of micro-arc processing of Al and Mg alloys in order to achieve MAO corrosion protective thin layers that comply with the aeronautical requirements while minimizing energy consumption.
A detailed investigation of the process parameters and their influence on the grown ceramic layer will be coupled with the characterization of the layers regarding their microstructure and properties focusing on corrosion protection efficiency.
Moreover using fast video imaging and time-resolved optical emission spectroscopy coupled with electrical measurements, a detailed study of the physics of the micro-discharges resulting from the dielectric breakdown will be carried out to shed light on the physico-chemical mechanisms that sustain the layer growth. It is thus expected to determine the response of the micro-discharges, and consequently of the ceramic layer characteristics, to a modification in the process parameters. The perfect knowledge of these mechanisms will then help controlling the process through the management of the micro-discharges.
The work is planed to be performed by a consortium of two partners – one research institution, one supplier of micro-arc coatings – and organized around five work packages. It is intended that a part of the work will be subcontracted for investigating some process parameters unavailable within the partner's facilities.
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