Liu, Y., Arenas, M.A., Garcia-Vergara, S.J., Hashimoto, T., Skeldon, P., Thompson, G.E., Habazaki, H., Bailey, Paul and Noakes, T.C.Q. (2008) Behaviour of copper during alkaline corrosion of Al–Cu alloys. Corrosion Science, 50 (5). pp. 1475-1480. ISSN 0010-938X

Enrichment of copper beneath amorphous anodic films on relatively dilute, solid-solution Al–Cu alloys is necessary before copper can be oxidized and incorporated into the oxide layer. A similar enrichment arises during electropolishing, which also develops an amorphous oxide. In these cases, external polarization is applied, usually generating a relatively high oxidation rate. In contrast, enrichment behaviour at the corrosion potential has received less attention. The present study examines the corrosion of Al–Cu alloys, containing up to 6.7 at.% Cu, in 0.1 M sodium hydroxide solution at 293 K. Copper is again found to enrich in the alloy, similarly to behaviour with anodic polarization. However, following enrichment, discrete copper-rich particles appear to be generated in the corrosion product. These are suggested to be nanoparticles of copper, since the corrosion potentials of the alloys are low relative to that required for oxidation of copper. The corrosion rate increases with increase of both time and copper content of the alloy, probably associated with a greater cathodic activity due to an increasing number of nanoparticles. The corrosion proceeds with loss of aluminium species to the sodium hydroxide solution, but with retention of copper in the layer of hydrated alumina corrosion product.

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