Strain-assisted corrosion cracking and growth rate inhibitors

University dissertation from Andrey Jivkov, Solid Mechanics, Malmö University, SE-205 06 Malmö, Sweden

Abstract: A model for evolution of cracks as a result of strain-assisted corrosion is presented. The considered cracks possess a realistic geometry, where the tip region is an integral part of the crack surface instead of being a singular point. This geometry is either implicitly defined or is a consequence of crack nucleation from surface irregularities. The evolution model poses a moving boundary value problem, where material dissolution advances the boundary exposed to the corrosive environment. A controlling mechanism for the boundary advancement is the rupture of a brittle corrosion-protective film, which is continually building-up along the corroding surface. The rate of boundary evolution is a function of the degree of the protective film damage, caused by mechanical straining. Thus, no crack growth criterion is needed for the analysis. A FEM based program with various procedures for tracking the moving boundary is used as a solution tool. A number of problems are considered – cracks with realistic geometries with tips embedded in a square-root singular stress field, and cracks nucleating from surface pits and propagating in either a homogeneous material or in a bi-material system. The presented results show the importance of the crack width, interpreted as grain boundaries inter-phase thickness, as well as the various shape parameters describing the crack tip region, for the stress corrosion crack growth rate. Further, the results clearly demonstrate that the interaction between the surface deformation and the protective film is primarily responsible for the dissolution localisation along a narrow surface region, such that a crack is formed from a pit and the crack shape is maintained during the evolution. The influence of the initial pit aspect ratio on the crack nucleation phase is investigated, as well as the competition of cracks evolving from closely situated pits. It is shown how these results could be used for estimation of the arrested cracks distribution along a corroding surface. In the cases of corrosion cracks growing across bi-material interfaces the numerical results for the crack morphology are shown to be in qualitative agreement with a real life example. In all these cases the cracks pass the interface being either accelerated or inhibited, depending on the elastic mismatch of the bi-material system. Design recommendations are proposed on the bases of the presented results. Finally, a perturbation model for a non-homogeneous material is proposed. The model is used in the analysis of an ideal crack with one tip interfering with an inclusion, introduced in a plane homogeneous elastic body, and having arbitrarily varying elastic characteristics. The solution is given in terms of an area integral and further specialised to an inclusion shaped as a layer stretching perpendicularly to the crack plane. A closed form result for this special case is derived and compared with numerical results obtained for finite variations of the elastic modulus. A wide range of validity of the perturbation solution is discovered.

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