High-Temperature Corrosion-Fatigue of Cast Alloys for Exhaust Manifolds

Abstract: The introduction of gas-driven Otto engine and the corresponding usage of bio-fuels in heavy-duty engines will render the exhaust atmosphere more corrosive and bring a higher working temperature to exhaust manifolds. The current service material, a ferritic ductile cast iron called SiMo51, will soon meet its upper temperature limit set by the ferrite-austenite transformation at 860ºC. Three alternative materials, as well as SiMo51 serving as reference, are investigated in the present thesis emphasizing on high-temperature corrosion fatigue. The first aim of this study is to obtain material data and give a quantitative ranking of the materials’ performance. Low-cycle fatigue (LCF) tests at 800ºC in a synthetic exhaust gas (5%O2-10%CO2-5%H2O-1ppmSO2-N2 bal.) are conducted to evaluate the materials’ performance in simulated real working scenarios, where high-temperature, corrosive atmosphere and fatigue conditions during testings are similar to the conditions experienced by the exhaust manifolds. To evaluate the individual effect from high-temperature fatigue and isolate the impact from corrosion, the materials are tested under the same settings but in an argon atmosphere. To evaluate the individual effect from high-temperature corrosion and isolate the impact from mechanical deformation, oxidation tests are carried out at 800ºC in the same synthetic exhaust gas. The second aim is to identify and understand different oxidation behavior and failure mechanisms in the materials, realized by considerable characterizations of the tested specimens.From the fatigue tests, it is found that the austenitic stainless steel HK30 has the highest fatigue resistance, followed by the austenitic cast iron Ni-resist D5S, and the ferritic ductile cast irons SiMo1000 and SiMo51, a ranking valid in both atmospheres. In the exhaust atmosphere, for instance, the improvement in fatigue strength at 15,000 cycles relative to SiMo51 are 260%, 194% and 26%, respectively. Different crack initiation and propagation mechanisms are found for the various combinations of materials and atmospheres. In the exhaust atmosphere, for instance, crack initiation is assisted by oxide intrusion in SiMo51 and crack propagation is affected by crack branching in HK30, mechanisms not observed in argon. By comparing the S-N fatigue curves in the two atmospheres, the influence of oxidation on fatigue life is evaluated. The fatigue life of the cast irons are surprisingly found to be higher in the exhaust atmosphere. Several explanations are suggested for this, considering their very different oxidation behaviors. This study provides accurate test data that can be used to help industry avoid over-dimensioned design. The investigation of the failure mechanisms promotes better understanding of the correlation between microstructure and mechanical properties. Moreover, the combination of fatigue tests in argon, fatigue tests in exhaust and oxidation tests in exhaust, shows how corrosion and fatigue individually and synergistically affect the materials’ performance at high temperature.