Keer received her bachelor’s degree in Materials science and Engineering from Northwestern polytechnical university (NPU), China in 2019. During her bachelor, she worked as a research assistant in State Key Laboratory of Solidification Technology (School of Materials, NPU, China), focusing on preparation and optimization of (Ni-Fe)-ZrO2 nanocrystalline thin film using composite electrodeposition. In 2018, she participated in ‘3+2 undergraduate-mater program’ between Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and NPU, and then received her master’s degree in Chemical and Materials Engineering from VUB in 2020. Her master thesis was about investigation into atmospheric corrosion, and more specifically, on designing of an experimental setup for atmospheric corrosion under controlled condensation.
Advanced measuring of thin-film aqueous environment and influence in the corrosion of metals
PhD student Keer ZHANG – funded by: m2i (Materials Innovation Institute)
Atmospheric corrosion is the most frequent type of corrosion for common metals, since structures are more exposed to air and moisture than any other environments. The process of atmospheric corrosion is rather complicated. Under atmospheric conditions, the environment consists of a thin aqueous film (or discrete droplets) that undergoes alternating wet/dry cycles. The wet/dry cycle is associated with condensation-evaporation processes of electrolyte thin film, while the former is controlled by the local environment (e.g. surrounding temperature, air-convection, relative humidity…).
One of the biggest challenges for studying atmospheric corrosion comes from the controlling of thin film electrolyte during corroding of metal substrate. In the case of condensation where electrolyte formation is driven by the temperature difference between metal substrate and ambient environment, it is a great challenge to reduce the fluctuation of surrounding environment, such that the condensed electrolyte film will remain as stable as possible. Investigation into temperature controlling of both ambient environment and metal substrate as well as continuous observation of condensed electrolyte is therefore quite essential, or to be more precise, has become one of the priorities, in this study. This information, together with investigation into corrosion process, would be able to reveal the hidden mechanisms behind atmospheric corrosion, which would further help to better understand, perform, and enhance the corrosion accelerated tests carried out in industries. The study could also be supportive in the development of corrosion prediction models, which could assist in, for instance, selecting proper materials for certain applications such that both performance and lifespan of the material can be promoted.