Novel additions to enhance galvanic corrosion resistance of magnesium alloys

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Engineering


This project, in collaboration with Luxfer MEL Technologies, a world leader in the design and manufacture of Magnesium Alloys for a range of industries, including aerospace, military and biomedical industries will involve fundamental studies aimed at developing and investigating novel, corrosion resistant magnesium alloys.
Magnesium alloys are the lightest structural metals (30 % lighter than aluminium alloys) making them ideal candidates for light weighting in weight critical applications such as Formula 1, military and aerospace applications. However, corrosion and corrosion protection remain challenges for magnesium and its alloys, due to its position on the galvanic series with respect to other metals. This project involves designing novel, intrinsically corrosion resistant alloys based on 2 fundamental approaches:
1. The use of alloying elements to modify the surface oxide layer of the magnesium alloy.
2. The use of alloying elements to poison the cathodic activity within the alloy.

Project Aims
This project aims to develop a step change in corrosion resistance of magnesium alloys. Alloys will be produced by Luxfer MEL Technologies with the guidance on ideas and concepts from Swansea university. The aim of the modified alloys will be to investigate the effectiveness of oxide film modification and cathodic site poisoning, in isolation and in combination, on general and galvanic corrosion.
The studies will be accompanied with comprehensive in- and ex-situ electrochemical characterization by means of scanning electrochemical techniques in combination with potentiodynamic measurements, amongst others. Surface chemical and structural characterization will be carried using a world class suite of instrumentation including X-ray-photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), glancing angle X-ray diffraction (XRD), and field emission gun scanning electron microscopy (FEG-SEM), based in the laboratories of the Swansea University corrosion research group.

Predicted Outcomes
Realistic goals:
1. Understanding of the effect of various elements on oxide formation/cathodic poisoning in Mg alloys.
2. Understanding of the mechanisms by which these changes occur

Ambitious goals:
1. Demonstrate improved performance of a material with regards to galvanic corrosion compared with base line materials.
2. Develop an understanding that can be applied to a new industrial material.

Planned Impact

The CDT will produce 50 graduates with doctoral level knowledge and research skills focussed on the development and manufacture of functional industrial coatings. Key impact areas are:

- The development of new products and processes to address real scientific challenges existing in industry and to transfer this knowledge into partnering companies. The CDT will enable rapid knowledge transfer between academia and industry due to the co-created projects and co-supervision.
- The creation of knowledge sharing network for partner companies created by the environment of the CDT.
- On average 2-3 publications per RE. Publications in high impact factor journals. The scientific scope of the CDT comprises a mixture of interdisciplinary areas and as such a breadth of knowledge can be generated through the CDT. Examples would include Photovoltaic coatings - Journal of Materials Chemistry A (IF 8.867) and Anti-corrosion Coatings - Corrosion Science (IF 5.245), Progress in Organic Coatings (IF 2.903)
- REs will disseminate knowledge at leading conferences e.g. Materials Research Society (MRS), Meetings of the Electrochemical Society, and through trade associations and Institutes representing the coatings sector.
- A bespoke training package on the formulation, function, use, degradation and end of life that will embed the latest research and will be available to industry partners for employees to attend as CPD and for other PGRs demonstrating added value from the CDT environment.

Wealth Creation
- Value added products and processes created through the CDT will generate benefits for Industrial partners and supply chains helping to build a productive nation.
- Employment of graduates into industry will transfer their knowledge and skills into businesses enabling innovation within these companies.
- Swansea University will support potential spin out companies where appropriate through its dedicated EU funded commercialisation project, Agor IP.

Environment and society
- Functionalised surfaces can potentially improve human health through anti-microbial surfaces for health care infrastructure and treatment of water using photocatalytic coatings.
- Functionalised energy generation coatings will contribute towards national strategies regarding clean and secure energy.
- Responsible research and innovation is an overarching theme of the CDT with materials sustainability, ethics, energy and end of life considered throughout the development of new coatings and processes. Thus, REs will be trained to approach all future problems with this mind set.
- Outreach is a critical element of the training programme (for example, a module delivered by the Ri on public engagement) and our REs will have skills that enable the dissemination of their knowledge to wide audiences thus generating interest in science and engineering and the benefits that investments can bring.

- Highly employable doctoral gradates with a holistic knowledge of functional coatings manufacture who can make an immediate impact in industry or academia.
- The REs will have transferable skills that are pertinent across multiple sectors.
- The CDT will develop ethically aware engineers with sustainability embed throughout their training
- The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusivity within our cohorts through CDT and University wide initiatives.
- The development of alumni networks to grow new opportunities for our CDT and provide REs with mentors.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2596264 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Greg McArthur