Zr-based conversion layer on Zn-Al-Mg alloy coated steel sheets : insights into the formation mechanism
Zr-based conversion layers are considered as environmentally friendly alternatives replacing trication phosphatation in the automotive industry. Based on excellent electronic barrier properties they provide an effective corrosion protection of the metallic substrate. In this work, thin protective layers were grown on novel Zn-Al-Mg alloy coated steel sheets by increasing the local pH-value at the sample surface leading to deposition of a Zr-based conversion layer. For this purpose Zn-Al-Mg alloy (ZM) coated steel sheets were treated in an aqueous model conversion solution containing well-defined amounts of hexafluorozirconic acid (H2ZrF6) and characterized after different immersion times with SKPFM and field emission SEM (FE-SEM)/EDX techniques. A deposition mechanism of Zr-based conversion coatings on microstructural heterogeneous Zn-Al-Mg alloy surfaces was proposed.