Design and Multidimensional Screening of Flash-PEO Coatings for Mg in Comparison to Commercial Chromium(VI) Conversion Coating

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REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulations demand for an expedient discovery of a Cr(VI)-free alternative corrosion protection for light alloys even though the green alternatives might never be as cheap as current harmful technologies. In the present work, flash- plasma electrolytic oxidation coatings (FPEO) with the process duration < 90 s are developed on AZ31B alloy in varied mixtures of silicate-, phosphate-, aluminate-, and fluoride-based alkaline electrolytes implementing current density and voltage limits. The overall evaluation of the coatings’ anticorrosion performance (electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), neutral salt spray test (NSST), paintability) shows that from nine optimized FPEO recipes, two (based on phosphate, fluoride, and aluminate or silicate mixtures) are found to be an adequate substitute for commercially used Cr(VI)-based conversion coating (CCC). The FPEO coatings with the best corrosion resistance consume a very low amount of energy (~1 kW h m−2 µm−1). It is also found that the lower the energy consumption of the FPEO process, the better the corrosion resistance of the resultant coating. The superb corrosion protection and a solid environmentally friendly outlook of PEO-based corrosion protection technology may facilitate the economic justification for industrial end-users of the current-consuming process as a replacement of the electroless CCC process.
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