The Effect of Grain-Boundary Diffusion on the Oxidation of Low-Chromium Steels
Even though the oxidation behavior of steels is generally considered as to be widely understood, a closer look reveals some open questions, e.g. regarding the influence of the substrate grain size on the overall oxidation kinetics. At temperatures below 570°C the main constituent of the oxide scale formed on top of low alloy steels is magnetite. As shown by gold marker experiments it grows outward and inward at the same time, the latter exhibiting a gradual transition to the more stable spinel compound FeCr2O4. As indicated by intergranular-oxidation attack below the superficial scale, inward oxide growth seems to be driven by oxygen transport along the grain boundaries serving as fast diffusion paths. This is supported by thermogravimetric oxidation tests in air on low-Cr steels with varying grain size: The smaller the grains the higher the oxidation rate. Recently, a numerical model for the diffusive transport processes based on the finite-difference approach has been developed, which distinguishes between fast grain-boundary diffusion and bulk diffusion. Qualitatively, it is capable to predict the relationship between substrate grain size and inward oxide growth kinetics. Together with the thermodynamic tool ChemApp and in combination with a data set for the Fe-Cr-O system the mechanism-based simulation of the overall oxidation process of low-Cr steels is possible.
Prof. Marek Danielewski, Robert Filipek, Prof. Rafal Abdank-Kozubski, Witold Kucza, Paweł Zięba and Zbigniew Żurek
U. Krupp et al., "The Effect of Grain-Boundary Diffusion on the Oxidation of Low-Chromium Steels", Defect and Diffusion Forum, Vols. 237-240, pp. 946-951, 2005