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Macro segregation formation mechanism of the primary silicon phase in directionally solidified Al-Si hypereutectic alloys under the impact of electric currents

Zhang, Y.; Miao, X.; Shen, Z.; Han, Q.; Song, C.; Zhai, Q.


Understanding the macro segregation formed by applying electric currents is of high commercial importance. This paper investigates how electric currents control the solute distribution in the directionally solidified Al-20.5wt%Si hypereutectic alloy. Experimental results show that a severe macro segregation of the primary silicon phase occurs at the initial solidification stage of the samples. This is accompanied by two interface transitions in the mushy zone: quasi planar → upwards V-shaped → quasi planar. The corresponding numerical simulations present a vortex ring flow pattern as a consequence of the electric current distortion in the mushy zone. The peculiar macro segregation phenomenon can be fully explained by considering the effect of the forced flow on the solute distribution. At the initial growth of the samples, the forced flow generates a rigorous solute exchange between the mushy zone and the bulk melt and encourages the primary silicon to continuously precipitate and segregate. As the solute content in the bulk melt gradually approaches the eutectic point, the precipitation of primary silicon is profoundly reduced. Eventually, a significant segregation of the primary silicon phase is observed in the initial directional growth. The present study not only presents a new approach to control the solute distribution by applying an electric current through a generated forced flow, it also facilitates the understanding of the underlying grain refinement mechanism and the growth of crystals in the solute that are controlled by the electric currents.

Keywords: Al-Si alloys; directional solidification; external electric field; macro segregation; melt convection


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