Investigation of New, Low-Voltage, Aluminum, Sacrificial Anode Chemistries
The ultimate goal of this research was to gain a more fundamental understanding of the effects of “active"? alloying elements on the performance of low voltage, aluminum, sacrificial anodes. We have developed an overview of elemental trends and a comparison with literature, in support of a larger program on predicting anode behavior. The broader impact of this work was to enhance the ability to control corrosion and reduce the likelihood of hydrogen embrittlement induced by cathodic protection on ships and marine structures.
As compared to high voltage anodes, low voltage, aluminum, sacrificial anodes reduce the likelihood of causing hydrogen embrittlement or stress corrosion cracking when used to protect high strength steels. In this study, open circuit potential, potentiostatic, galvanostatic and Tafel tests were performed on eleven high-purity aluminum-based binary and ternary alloys containing Bi, Ga, In and Zn in an effort to understand the individual effects of each element and the interactions between these elements. The microstructures of the as-cast alloys and the corrosion surfaces after testing were characterized using electron microscopy. Current capacities and current capacity efficiencies were calculated from potentiostatic and galvanostatic data. Galvanic coupling data from Druschitz et al was plotted with average values from potentiostatic and galvanostatic tests on Tafel curves for all alloys.  Variance of weight loss, average galvanostatic current, and average potentiostatic potential of the Al-0.57 wt% Zn-0.55 wt% Bi alloy was evaluated.
Indium and gallium had the most significant effect on corrosion behavior (per wt% added), followed by zinc and bismuth. Bismuth had only a small effect on the weight loss, galvanostatic current and potentiostatic potential. However during potentiostatic testing Al-Bi alloys showed a steady increase in current with time, indicating that larger effects may be seen at longer periods of time. In Al-Zn alloys preferential dissolution of the zinc-rich interdendritic regions was observed. The Al-5.3 wt% Zn alloy showed high current values, but also exhibited high weight loss and more adherent corrosion products. Interdendritic corrosion also occurred with the Al-5.3 Zn-0.011 In alloy. Also, non-uniform dissolution of the remaining primary aluminum dendrites by the formation of small holes was observed, possibly due to indium precipitates. Grain boundary attack and severe intra-granular pitting was observed in Al-In alloys. Small holes were also evident on the surface of pits, similar to those seen on dendrites with the Al-5.3 Zn-0.011 In alloy. The addition of Indium greatly shifted voltages to more negative values (-0.802 to -0.858 VSCE at 9 A/m²) and significantly increased the observed currents (42-83 A/m² at -0.730 VSCE). High potentiostatic current capacities were exhibited by Al-In alloys, Al-0.1 wt% Ga, Al-5.3 wt% Zn-0.011 wt% In, and Al-0.57 wt% Zn-0.55 wt% Bi. However some calculated current capacity values were actually above the theoretical values, possibly due to corrosion products affecting the weight loss measurements.