Effect of copper and magnesium on the precipitation characteristics of Al-Li-Mg, Al-Li-Cu and Al-Li-Cu-Mg alloys

Katsikis, Spyros (2001) Effect of copper and magnesium on the precipitation characteristics of Al-Li-Mg, Al-Li-Cu and Al-Li-Cu-Mg alloys. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The effects of copper and magnesium on the precipitation characteristics of Al-Li-Mg, Al-Li- Cu, and Al-Li-Cu-Mg alloys have been investigated during isochronal and isothermal ageing. In AI-Li-Mg alloys, increasing the magnesium concentration results in stimulation of δ'precipitation by a shift of the α/δ'solvus boundary to higher temperatures. It was shown that for each wt%Mg present in the alloy the α/δ'solvus boundary shifts by 7.0°C. In Al-Li-Cu alloys the concentration of copper has no effect on the position of the α/δ'solvus boundary. The significant stimulation of δ' observed in Al-Li-Cu alloys was shown to be due to the formation of GPCu zones that act as heterogeneous nucleation centres. TEM analysis showed that this heterogeneous nucleation produced composite precipitates consisting of an inner plate of GPI zone and an outer cylindrical shell of δ'. At high copper concentrations (Cu>2.0%) and long ageing times at 150°C, significant retardation of δ' precipitation takes place due to precipitation of the equilibrium T1 and T2 phases.

The mechanisms by which copper and magnesium affect the precipitation characteristics of Al- Li-Cu-Mg alloys are different than those operating in the ternary AI-Li-Mg alloys and Al-Li-Cu alloys. In 1.7Lil. 2CuXMg alloys, increasing the magnesium concentration beyond 1.2% causes significant stimulation of δ'precipitation through the formation of Li-Cu-Mg clusters (mechanism referred to as CL δ') that are capable of rapidly developing into δ'. It is proposed that in 1.7Lil. 2CuXMg alloys the initial 1.2%Mg added is consumed in the formation of GPB zones that have very little effect on δ' precipitation. As the magnesium concentration increases to levels higher than 1.2%, the magnesium is free in the matrix to gather both copper and lithium thus forming Li-Cu-Mg clusters which are extremely effective at nucleating δ'

In 1.7Li1.2MgXCu alloys the mechanisms by which stimulation of δ' precipitation takes place are again by formation of Li-Cu-Mg clusters (CL δ'), and by nucleation on GPB zones (mechanism referred to as GP δ'). During ageing at 70 and 100°C, and for copper concentrations in the range 0-1.2%, the dominant precipitation mechanism is GP δ'. For higher copper concentrations (1.2<Cu<3.0) the dominant process is CL δ'. Increasing the ageing conditions to 150°C causes precipitation of δ' through classical nucleation and growth for low copper concentrations. For high copper concentrations, the precipitation of δ'comes about through the GP δ'mechanism. Using Kissinger's method, it was found that the activation energy for a' formation in AI-Li-Cu-Mg is equal to 62 kJ/mol, suggesting that the kinetics of the δ'precipitation process are also controlled by the presence of excess vacancies quenched-in from solution heat treatment. It is likely that the Li-Cu-Mg clusters that develop in the alloy also gather excess vacancies thus making the clusters vacancy-rich.

For all the alloy systems (Al-Li-Cu, Al-Li-Mg, and Al-Li-Cu-Mg alloys) and independently of the concentrations of copper and magnesium, the largest volume fraction of δ' precipitates form during ageing at 100°C where there is an optimum combination of thermodynamics and kinetics.

Ageing the alloys at 150°C (standard heat treatment for lithium containing alloys) and subsequently exposing at 70°C (to simulate service conditions for an aerospace alloy) resulted in embrittlement due to precipitation of additional (fine) δ'. This embrittlement was shown to be closely related to the volume fraction of δ' that precipitates during exposure. In Al-Li-Mg and AI-Li-Cu ternary alloys, increasing the concentration of magnesium and copper respectively, resulted in increased volume fractions of δ' precipitated during exposure and hence increased degrees of embrittlement. For Al-Li-Cu-Mg alloys the maximum volume fraction of δ' precipitated during exposure occurred in the 1.7Li1.2Cu1.2Mg alloy. It was shown that this alloy composition also showed the maximum degree of embrittlement.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Harris, S.J.
Noble, B.
Keywords: Aluminium, Lithium, Age hardening, Embrittlement, Biodeterioration
Subjects: T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
Item ID: 11664
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2010 14:59
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2016 05:01
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11664

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