Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Calvin L White


A research program focused on understanding the intergranular corrosion (IGC) and stress corrosion cracking (SCC) behavior of AA6005A aluminum extrusions is presented in this dissertation. The relationship between IGC and SCC susceptibility and the mechanisms of SCC in AA6005A extrusions were studied by examining two primary hypotheses.

IGC susceptibility of the elongated grain structure in AA6005A exposed to low pH saltwater was found to depend primarily on the morphology of Cu-containing precipitates adjacent to the grain boundaries in the elongated grain structure. IGC susceptibility was observed when a continuous (or semi-continuous) film of Cu-containing phase was present along the grain boundaries. When this film coarsened to form discrete Cu-rich precipitates, no IGC was observed. The morphology of the Cu-rich phase depended on post-extrusion heat treatment.

The rate of IGC penetration in the elongated grain structure of AA6005A-T4 and AA6005A-T6 extrusions was found to be anisotropic with IGC propagating most rapidly along the extrusion direction, and least rapidly along the through thickness direction. A simple 3-dimensional geometric model of the elongated grain structure was accurately described the observed IGC anisotropy, therefore it was concluded that the anisotropic IGC susceptibility in the elongated grain structure was primarily due to geometric elongation of the grains.

The velocity of IGC penetration along all directions in AA6005A-T6 decreased with exposure time. Characterization of the local environment within simulated corrosion paths revealed that a pH gradient existed between the tip of the IGC path and the external environment. Knowledge of the local environment within an IGC path allowed development of a simple model based on Fick's first law that considered diffusion of Al3+ away from the tip of the IGC path. The predicted IGC velocity agreed well with the observed IGC velocity, therefore it was determined that diffusion of Al3+ was the primary factor in determining the velocity of IGC penetration.

The velocity of crack growth in compact tensile (CT) specimens of AA6005A-T6 extrusion exposed to 3.5% NaCl at pH = 1.5 was nearly constant over a range of applied stress intensities, exposure times, and crack lengths. The crack growth behavior of CT specimens of AA6005A-T6 extrusion exposed to a solution of 3.5% NaCl at pH = 2.0 exhibited similar behavior, but the crack velocity was ~10.5X smaller than that those exposed to a solution at pH =1.5. Analysis of the local stress state and polarization behavior at the crack tip predicted that increasing the pH of the bulk solution from 1.5 to 2.0 would decrease the corrosion current density at the crack tip by approximately 11.8X. This predicted decrease in corrosion current density was in reasonable agreement with the observed decrease in SCC velocity associated with increasing the solution pH from 1.5 to 2.0. The agreement between the predicted and observed SCC velocities suggested that the electrochemical reactions controlling SCC in AA6005A-T6 extrusions are ultimately controlled by the pH gradient that exists between the crack tip and external environment.