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Chromate-free chemical conversion coatings for aluminum alloys

: Becker, Markus


Corrosion reviews 37 (2019), Nr.4, S.321-342
ISSN: 2191-0316
Fraunhofer IFAM ()
aluminum alloy; chemical conversion coating; chromate-free; corrosion protection; literature review

Corrosion of metallic components represents a major issue in the aeronautical sector, giving rise to safety concerns and significant financial damages. Conversion coatings (CC) based on hexavalent chromium provide exceptional corrosion protection at relatively low cost. However, environmental issues and health concerns raised a growing interest in the development of alternative technologies. These must not only be cost effective and environmentally friendly but also provide corrosion resistance and adhesion performance comparable to Cr6+-based CCs. Simultaneously fulfilling all of these criteria is a difficult challenge, and an industrial application has so far only been achieved by a small number of systems. This review critically summarizes the recent scientific literature and patents for chromate-free CCs on aluminum alloys and tries to assess their potential regarding the highly demanding aerospace requirements. The bath composition and coating characteristics of the trivalent chromium process, rare earth chemical conversion coatings, transition metal oxyanion additives, Zr/Ti-based chemical conversion coatings, sol-gel coatings, and smart coatings providing stimulus-related inhibitor release are discussed. The advantages and disadvantages of the alternative technologies with regard to their practical implementation are debated, as the aeronautics industry is confronted with the necessity to move away from chromates in the near term.