Understanding Corrosion and Passivation Processes in Light Alloys using Multinuclear NMR Techniques: A Visiting Fellowship for Prof. M. Forsyth

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics


This is a proposal for a 4 month visiting fellowship for Prof. Maria Forsyth of Monash University to visit the UK to carry out exploratory work on the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to investigate the corrosion and passivation of aluminium and magnesium. She will be based in the Department of Physics at Warwick with Prof. Mark Smith (NMR), but also make frequent visits to Birmingham only 20 miles away to work with Dr Alison Davenport (corrosion) and Dr Melanie Britton (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI). Forsyth is without doubt an acknowledged world-leader in materials engineering, particularly related to polymer electrolytes, novel ionic electrolytes and electrochemical corrosion processes. This project will focus on the use of NMR techniques to study the corrosion and protection of light alloys based on magnesium and aluminium. The chemistry of protective passivating films will be determined with multinuclear NMR techniques to investigate the mechanism of formation and the way in which they block corrosion reactions. When corrosion does take place, corrosion pits penetrate into the metal. NMR will be used to determine the chemistry of the concentrated metal chloride solutions within these pits, and the transport of water and even ions that control pit stability. Finally, the possibility of using magnetic resonance imaging to observe the development of artificial pits will be explored. Very preliminary measurements have suggested that this challenging experimental approach is feasible, and could open up an entirely new approach for the study of pitting processes. In addition to exploring new experimental approaches to corrosion and passivation of metals, this work will develop a fundamental understanding of these processes that will be of practical value to the aerospace and automotive industries, where light alloys such as magnesium and aluminium are being increasingly used to improve fuel efficiency, and efforts are underway to extend the lifetime of structures (for example ageing aircraft). In such applications, corrosion and its prevention are critical to the safety of vehicles. This project will bring together a group of researchers with highly complementary expertise to develop NMR techniques, to include spectroscopy, relaxation, diffusion and imaging experiments to bring a novel approach to using magnetic resonance techniques to probe corrosion and passivation processes in light metal alloys. During the fellowship, the intention is to bring together the world-leading material's expertise of Forsyth with the NMR and materials expertise of the UK team to form a long-term collaboration between the UK and Australia that will make a unique contribution to this field. This will be an intensive burst of activity to kick start this new project. In addition, this will be an excellent opportunity for Prof. Forsyth to meet a range of other UK groups during her stay and to give a series of colloquia.


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