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Aerospace Materials

Aluminium Alloys

BACKGROUND
Aluminum alloys have been the main airframe material since they started REPLACING WOOD in the early 1920s. HIGH STRENGTH ALUMINUM ALLOYS are, and will remain, an important airframe material: Even in fighter aircraft, which already has composite material percentages in the range of 2030%!!!! The attractiveness of aluminum is that it is a relatively low cost, light weight metal that can be heat treated to fairly high strength levels, and it is one of the most easily fabricated of the high performance materials, which usually correlates directly with lower costs.

Introduction
Symbol Al and its atomic number is 13. Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust. Aluminium is a soft, durable, lightweight, malleable metal with appearance ranging from silvery to dull grey, depending on the surface roughness. Aluminium is nonmagnetic and nonsparking. The yield strength of pure aluminium is 711 MPa. Aluminium alloys have yield strengths ranging from 200 MPa to 600 MPa. Aluminium has about one-third the density and stiffness of steel. It is ductile, and easily machined, cast, and extruded.

Introduction
Excellent CORROSION RESISTANCE due to a thin surface layer of aluminium oxide that forms when the metal is exposed to air. The strongest aluminium alloys are less corrosion resistant due to galvanic reactions with alloyed copper. Aluminium atoms are arranged in a fcc structure. Aluminium has a stacking-fault energy of approximately 200 mJ/m. Good thermal and electrical conductor. Aluminium is capable of being a superconductor.

Crustal abundance of chemical elements[1]


Element Oxygen
Silicon Aluminium Iron Calcium Magnesium Sodium Potassium Titanium

% in wt 45.2
27.2 8.0 5.8 5.06 2.77 2.32 1.68 0.86

World production figures for various metals and plastics[1]

Primary aluminium production[2].

Outlets for the consumption of aluminium in USA and China [1].

CHINA

Aluminium Production
Although aluminium is now the second most used metal, it is a comparative newcomer among the common metals because of the difficulty in extracting it from its ores. Aluminium is extracted from the BAUXITE. The BAUXITE consists of: Gibbsite: Al(OH)3 (Trihydrate) Boehmite: -AlO(OH) Diaspore: -AlO(OH) Iron oxides goethite and hematite Clay mineral kaolinite: Al2Si2O5 (OH)4 Small amounts of anatase

Aluminium Production
Immense amounts of aluminium are found in clays, shale and other minerals. It is 1.5-2.5 times more expensive to obtained alumina from these sources

Total energy consumption in mega watt hours for each stage in the production of various metals[1].

Bayer Process
The Bayer process was developed and patented in 1888 by Karl Joseft Bayer. This process consist in digested crushed BAUXITE in strong sodium hydroxide solutions at temperatures up to 240C. Most of the ALUMINA is dissolved leaving a insoluble residue called RED MUD (iron oxides and silica), which is removed by filtration. The BAUXITE ores quality dominates the process conditions (pressure, temperature, etc.).

Bayer Process

Bayer Process
Bayer Process can be expressed by Al2O3xH2O+2NaOH2NaAlO2 + (x +1)H2O In the second stage, some conditions are adjusted to obtain a inverse reaction, which is known as decomposition, 2NaAlO2 + 2H2O 2NaOH+Al2O33H2O (trihydrate) The decompositions is done at 50C an it takes until 30h. ALUMINA is produce by calcification of the trihydrate.

The calcification takes place in two stages, where the water used during the crystallization is removed in a range of 400-600C.

Bayer Process
This process produce ALUMINA which is more chemically active. Then is heating (1200C) until is partially or completely converted to ALUMINA inert. The Bayer process produce smelter grade of Alumina in the range of 99.3-99.7% Al2O3

Hall-Hroult Process
It is the principal process to obtain ALUMINIUM Alumina (Al2O3) is dissolved in a carbon-lined bath of
molten cryolite, Na3AlF6.

The mixture is electrolyzed. This causes the liquid aluminium to be deposited at the cathode as a precipitate, while the carbon anode is oxidized to carbon dioxide. The total chemical reaction is as follows: 2 Al2O3 + 3 C 4 Al + 3 CO2

Hall-Hroult Process
Alumina is then decomposed in aluminium + oxygen: The aluminium is more dense than the cryolite and sinks to the bottom of the bath where is protected form oxidation at high temperatures. The oxygen is deposited and burned in the carbon electrodes producing CO2. Some process parameters: Tension: 5-6 V. Current density: 1,5-3 A/cm2, which suggest a current of 150 000 amperes. The electrodes must be at the same height, which implies a very good control during the process. The alumina proportion needs to be controlled during the process

Hall-Hroult Process
The Hall-Hroult process was discovered independently and almost simultaneously in 1886 by the American chemist Charles Martin Hall and the Frenchman Paul Hroult. They also born and died in the same dates!

Hall-Hroult Process

Designation System
It is convenient to divide aluminium alloys into two major categories: casting and wrought (heat or deformation treated) compositions Cast and wrought alloy nomenclatures have been developed. The Aluminum Association system is most widely recognized in the United States. Their alloy identification system employs different nomenclatures for wrought and cast alloys, but divides alloys into families for simplification:

Wrought families
For wrought alloys a four-digit system is used to produce alist of wrought composition families as follows: 1xxx Controlled unalloyed (pure) compositions 2xxx Alloys in which copper is the principal alloying element, though other elements, notably magnesium, may be specified 3xxx Alloys in which manganese is the principal alloying element 4xxx Alloys in which silicon is the principal alloying element 5xxx Alloys in which magnesium is the principal alloying element 6xxx Alloys in which magnesium and silicon are principal alloying elements 7xxx Alloys in which zinc is the principal alloying element, but other elements such as copper, magnesium, chromium, and zirconium may be specified 8xxx Alloys including tin and some lithium compositions characterizing miscellaneous compositions 9xxx Reserved for future use

Wrought Aluminium and Aluminium Alloy Designation System


Aluminum. In the 1xxx group, the series 10xx is used to designate alloyed compositions that have natural impurity limits.
The last two of the four digits indicate the minimum aluminium percentage. Designations having second digits other than zero (integers 1 through 9, assigned consecutively as needed) indicate special control of one or more individual impurities.

Examples

1030 indicates 99.30% minimum content of Al 1130 1230 1330 , etc. indicate the same purity but a special control in one or more impurities.

Wrought Aluminium and Aluminium Alloy Designation System


Aluminium Alloys In the 2xxx through 8xxx alloy groups, the second digit in the designation indicates alloy modification. If the second digit is zero, it indicates the original alloy; integers 1 through 9, assigned consecutively, indicate modifications of the original alloy. The last two of the four digits in the 2xxx through 8xxx groups have no special significance, but serve only to identify the different aluminium alloys in the group.

Cast families
Casting compositions are described by a three-digit system followed by a decimal value. The decimal .0 in all cases pertains to casting alloy limits. Alloy families for casting compositions are: 1xx.x Controlled unalloyed (pure) compositions, especially for rotor manufacture 2xx.x Alloys in which copper is the principal alloying element, but other alloying elements may be specified 3xx.x Alloys in which silicon is the principal alloying element, but other alloying elements such as copper and magnesium are specified 4xx.x Alloys in which silicon is the principal alloying element 5xx.x Alloys in which magnesium is the principal alloying element 6xx.x Unused 7xx.x Alloys in which zinc is the principal alloying element, but other alloying elements such as copper and magnesium may be specified 8xx.x Alloys in which tin is the principal alloying element 9xx.x Unused

Cast Aluminium and Aluminium Alloy Designation System


The first digit indicates the alloy group. 1xx.x group:
The second two of the four digits in the designation indicate the minimum aluminium percentage. The last digit indicates the product form: 1xx.0 indicates castings, and 1xx.1 indicates ingot.

2xx.x through 9xx.x alloy groups:


The second two of the four digits in the designation have no special significance but serve only as identification. The last digit, which is to the right of the decimal point, indicates the product form.

Temper Designation System for Aluminium and Aluminium Alloys


F, As-Fabricated. This is applied to products shaped by cold working, hot working, or casting processes in which no special control over thermal conditions or strain hardening is employed. For wrought products, there are no mechanical property limits. O, Annealed. O applies to wrought products that are annealed to obtain lowest-strength temper and to cast products that are annealed to improve ductility and dimensional stability. The O may be followed by a digit other than zero. H, Strain-Hardened (Wrought Products Only). This indicates products that have been strengthened by strain hardening, with or without supplementary thermal treatment to produce some reduction in strength.

Temper Designation System for Aluminium and Aluminium Alloys


W, Solution Heat-Treated. This is an unstable temper applicable only to alloys whose strength naturally (spontaneously) changes at room temperature over a duration of months or even years after solution heat treatment. The designation is specific only when the period of natural aging is indicated (for example,W 12 h). T, Solution Heat-Treated. This applies to alloys whose strength is stable within a few weeks of solution heat treatment. The T is always followed by one or more digits.

2618-T6 Aluminium Alloy

2618-T6 Aluminium Alloy


The T6 age-hardening treatment consists of three steps:
Solution treatment. The main purpose of this treatment is to take into solid solution the maximum amount of the soluble hardening elements in the alloy. The process consists of heating the material to a certain temperature for a time long enough to achieve a homogenous solid solution. Quenching. The objective of the quenching is to maintain the solid solution formed by rapidly cooling to near room temperature.

2618-T6 Aluminium Alloy


Ageing process. The material hardening is achieved in the ageing process. A controlled decomposition of the saturated solid solution takes place at low-temperature (115 to 190C) and long-holding times (5 to 48 h) to form fine dispersed precipitates. The material used has the T6 treatment which means that the ageing process is made artificially in a furnace.

Temper Designations
Subdivisions of H Temper H1 Strain-hardened only. H2 Strain-hardened and partially annealed. H3 Strain-hardened and stabilized. H4 Strain-hardened and lacquered or painted. Subdivisions of T Temper T1 Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition. T2 Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process, cold worked, and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition T3 Solution heat-treated cold worked and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition.

Temper Designations
T4 Solution heat-treated and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition T5 Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process and then artificially aged. T6 Solution heat-treated and then artificially aged. T7 Solution heat-treated and overaged/stabilized T8 Solution heat-treated , coldworked, and then artificially aged. T9 Solution heat-treated, artificially aged, and then cold worked. T10 Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process, cold worked, and then artificially aged

Sources
[1] Light alloys from traditional alloys to nanocrystals I. J. Polmear [2] International aluminium institute: http://stats.worldaluminium.org/iai/stats_new/formServer.asp?for m=1 [3] Igora: http://www.igora.ch/en/index.htm [4] ASM Metal Handbook Vol 2 Properties and Selection: Non Ferrous Alloys and Special Purpose Materials

Assignment V
In the following link you will find a case of study of the use of aluminium in the aerospace industry. http://aluminium.matter.org.uk/content/html/eng/default. asp?catid=154&pageid=2144416895

Aluminum alloys
Aluminum alloys have been the most widely used structural materials in aircraft for several decades. The most used alloys are the 2000 series (Al-Cu-Mg), the 6000 series (Al-Si-Mg), and the 7000 series alloys (Al-ZnMg-Cu). All are precipitation-hardenable alloys. Their microstructure is controlled by heat treatment and they can be produced in a variety of microstructural conditions, or temper, which allows them to achieve specific design requirements. New developments in aluminum alloys: low density aluminum-lithium alloys, the powder metallurgyprocessed 7000 series alloys, the aluminum-based MMCs, and metal-polymer hybrid composites.

What is Precipitation-hardening?
These alloys relay on the precipitation of fine coherent precipitates and dispersoids for strengthening. The morphology and distribution of these small particles dictate mechanical properties and environmental response of the materials.
Heat Treatment

Mechanical Properties

Microstructure

Ageing
The main requirement for an alloy system to respond to age-hardening is a significant decrease in solid solubility of one or more of the alloying elements with decreasing temperature.

At the eutectic temperature B has a high solubility in A

The solubility decrease markedly towards room temperature

Question

Is this diagram a better example of the aging requirement?

Stages of Heat Treatment


1. Solution heat treatment at a higher temperature within the single phase region, so as to dissolve the alloying elements; Quench, in order to form a supersaturated solid solution (SSSS) of these elements in Al, and Ageing, i.e. the controlled decomposition of the supersaturated solid solution to form a fine dispersion of precipitates. This can occur at any temperature below the solvus, even at room temperature.

2.

3.

Solution heat treatment


Solution heat treatment involves heating the alloy so that all the constituents are taken into solid solution.

Quenching
The aim of quenching is to produce a supersaturated solid solution (SSSS) of the alloying elements in -aluminium. If the alloy were slowly cooled, the phase would nucleate and grow at heterogeneous sites to form an equilibrium + structure. However quenching reduces the time for diffusion and effectively 'freezes in' the non-equilibrium phase structure. Because the phase now contains more solute than its equilibrium level, this solid solution is described as being supersaturated.

Quenching

Precipitation from a Supersaturated Solid Solution


Upon Ageing, a supersaturated solid solution (SSSS) will tend to transform towards the equilibrium structure. However, before equilibrium is attained, a number of intermediate stages typically occurs.

Precipitation from a Supersaturated Solid Solution

Precipitation in Aluminium Alloys

Precipitation in Aluminium Alloys

Precipitation in Al-Cu
Courtesy of MH Jacobs, The University of Birmingham

Micrograph showing Cu rich GP zones in Al-4%Cu, aged for 6 hours at 180 C. .

Micrograph showing ' precipitates in Al-4%Cu, aged for 2 hours at 200 C.

Micrograph showing precipitates in Al-4%Cu, aged for 45 mins at 450 C.

Aluminium Alloys
Solution Heat Treating and Aging

Note the dramatic increase in strength of both due to precipitation hardening with only a moderate reduction in elongation.

Aluminium Alloys
Conditions for an Aluminum alloy to be precipitation hardened: The alloy must contain at least one element or compound in a sufficient amount that has a decreasing solid solubility in aluminum with decreasing temperature. In other words, the elements or compounds must have an appreciable solubility at high temperatures and only minimal solubility at lower temperatures. Elements that have this characteristic are copper, zinc, silicon, and magnesium, with compounds such as CuAl2 Mg2Si, and MgZn2.

In-situ TEM image of a grain structure pinnend by CuAl2 precipitates in an Al alloy film (Longworth and Thompson 1991).

Aluminium Alloys

The element or compound that is put into solution during the solution heat treating operation must be capable of forming a fine precipitate. The precipitation of these elements or compounds progressively hardens the alloy until a maximum hardness is obtained. Alloys that are not aged sufficiently to obtain maximum hardness are said to be underaged, while those that are aged past peak hardness are said to be overaged.
The copper forms precipitates of CuAl2 within an aluminium matrix

Note the large reduction in strength when it is overaged at 425 F.

Artificial Aging Curves for 2024-T4 Sheet3

Aluminium Alloys
1. Solution heat treatment at a higher temperature within the single phase region, so as to dissolve the alloying elements; Quench, in order to form a supersaturated solid solution (SSSS) of these elements in Al, and Ageing, i.e. the controlled decomposition of the supersaturated solid solution to form a fine dispersion of precipitates. This can occur at any temperature below the solvus, even at room temperature.

2.

3.

Aluminium Alloys

Aluminium Alloys
Annealing Cold working results in an increase in internal energy due to an increase in dislocations, point defects, and vacancies. The tensile and yield strengths increase with cold working, while the ductility and elongation decrease. If cold worked aluminum alloys are heated to a sufficiently high temperature for a sufficiently long time, annealing will occur in three stages: recovery, recrystallization, and grain growth. Although heating for longer times or at higher temperatures will generally result in grain growth, aluminum alloys contain dispersoids of manganese, chromium, and/or zirconium that help to suppress grain growth. Annealing treatments are used during complex cold-forming operations to allow further forming without the danger of sheet cracking.

Aluminium Alloys
The softest, most ductile and most formable condition for aluminum alloys is produced by full annealing to the O condition. Full annealing of both the 2XXX and the majority of the 7XXX alloys can be accomplished by heating to 775 F for 23 h followed by cooling at 50 F/h or slower to 500 F. This treatment will also remove the effects of precipitation hardening. Heating to 650 F will remove the effects of cold work but only partially remove the effects of precipitation hardening.

Series 2xxx aluminium alloy


The most widely used alloy of the 2000 series is 2024-T3 which takes advantage of cold working followed by natural aging. The alloy has moderate yield strength but good damage tolerance (good resistance to fatigue crack growth and good fracture toughness). In the form of thick sheet, however, it is susceptible to exfoliation corrosion (Next slide). The alloy is used mostly for fuselage skins, usually clad with a layer of pure aluminum for corrosion protection, and is found in most of the commercial and military transport aircraft built over the past 30 years.

Exfoliation corrosion
Exfoliation corrosion is a particular form of intergranular corrosion associated with high strength aluminum alloys. Alloys that have been extruded or otherwise worked heavily, with a microstructure of elongated, flattened grains, are particularly prone to this damage. Corrosion products building up along these grain boundaries exert pressure between the grains and the end result is a lifting or leafing effect. The damage often initiates at end grains encountered in machined edges, holes or grooves and can subsequently progress through an entire section. Exfoliation of a failed aircraft component made of 7075-T6 aluminum

Series 2xxx aluminium alloy


When alloyed with iron and nickel, the 2000 series alloys have reasonably high creep strength, as typified by alloy 2618. Addition of copper provides good combinations of strength and ductility as well as good weldability, as typified by alloy 2219.

Series 7xxx aluminium alloy


The 7000 series alloys, of which 7075 has been the most widely used, have the highest strengths by far. The alloys are produced as either sheet, plate, forgings, or extrusions. They are used for fuselage skins, stringers, and bulkheads, as well as for wing skins, panels, and covers. In the conventional peak age (high strength) condition (T6), the thick plates, forgings, and extrusions of the 7000 series alloys are highly susceptible to stress corrosion cracking (SCC), particularly when stressed through the thickness. Many theories have been developed to explain the susceptibility to SCC: hydrogen embrittlement to be an important factor and grain boundary precipitate size may also be important.