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Title: Multiscale model of metal alloy oxidation at grain boundaries

High temperature intergranular oxidation and corrosion of metal alloys is one of the primary causes of materials degradation in nuclear systems. In order to gain insights into grain boundary oxidation processes, a mesoscale metal alloy oxidation model at experimentally relevant length scales is established by combining quantum Density Functional Theory (DFT) and mesoscopic Poisson-Nernst-Planck/classical DFT with predictions focused on Ni alloyed with either Cr or Al. Analysis of species and fluxes at steady-state conditions indicates that the oxidation process involves vacancy-mediated transport of Ni and the minor alloying element to the oxidation front and the formation of stable metal oxides. The simulations further demonstrate that the mechanism of oxidation for Ni-5Cr and Ni-4Al is qualitatively different. Intergranular oxidation of Ni-5Cr involves the selective oxidation of the minor element and not matrix Ni, due to slower diffusion of Ni relative to Cr in the alloy and due to the significantly smaller energy gain upon the formation of nickel oxide compared to that of Cr2O3. This essentially one-component oxidation process results in continuous oxide formation and a monotonic Cr vacancy distribution ahead of the oxidation front, peaking at alloy/oxide interface. In contrast, Ni and Al are both oxidized in Ni-4Al forming amore » mixed spinel NiAl2O4. Different diffusivities of Ni and Al give rise to a complex elemental distribution in the vicinity of the oxidation front. Slower diffusing Ni accumulates in the oxide and metal within 3 nm of the interface, while Al penetrates deeper into the oxide phase. Ni and Al are both depleted from the region 3–10 nm ahead of the oxidation front creating voids. The oxide microstructure is also different. Cr2O3 has a plate-like structure with 1.2 - 1.7 nm wide pores running along the grain boundary, while NiAl2O4 has 1.5 nm wide pores in the direction parallel to the grain boundary and 0.6 nm pores in the perpendicular direction providing an additional pathway for oxygen diffusion through the oxide.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Journal of Chemical Physics, 142(21):Article No. 214114
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States