Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Eason

Rights Statement

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephen Stagon

Department Chair

Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu

College Dean

Dr. Mark Tumeo


Aluminum alloy castings are being integrated increasingly into automotive and aerospace assemblies due to their extraordinary properties, especially high strength-to-density ratio. To produce high quality castings, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms of the formation of defects, specifically pores and inclusion, in aluminum. There have been numerous studies on pore formation during solidification which lead to hot tearing and/or reduction in mechanical properties. However, a comprehensive study that correlates pore formation theory with in situ observations and modeling assumptions from the literature as well as experimental observations in not available. The present study is motivated to fill this gap.

An in-depth discussion of pore formation is presented in this study by first reinterpreting in situ observations reported in the literature as well as assumptions commonly made to model pore formation in aluminum castings. The physics of pore formation is reviewed through theoretical fracture pressure calculations based on classical nucleation theory (i) for homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation, and (ii) with and without dissolved gas, i.e., hydrogen. Based on the fracture pressure for aluminum, critical pore size and corresponding probability of vacancies clustering to form the critical-size pore have been calculated by using thermodynamic data reported in the literature. Calculations show that it is impossible for a pore to nucleate either homogeneously or heterogeneously in aluminum, even with dissolved hydrogen. The formation of pores in aluminum castings can only be explained by inflation of entrained surface oxide films entrained during prior damage to liquid aluminum (bifilms) under reduced pressure and/or with dissolved gas, which involves only growth, avoiding any nucleation problem. This mechanism is consistent with reinterpretations of in situ observations as well as assumptions made in the literature to model pore formation.

To determine whether damage to liquid aluminum by entrainment of surface oxides can be observed and measured, Reduced Pressure Tests (RPT) have been conducted by using high quality, continuously cast A356.0 aluminum alloys ingots. Analyses of RPT samples via micro-computer tomography (μ-CT) scanning have demonstrated that number of pores and volume fraction of pore in aluminum casting increased by raising the pouring height (i.e., velocity of the liquid). Moreover, pore size distributions were observed to be lognormal, consistent with the literature.

Cross-sections of RPT samples have been investigated via scanning electron microscopy. In all cases, the presence of oxygen was detected inside, around and between the pores. The existence of oxide films inside all pores indicates that oxide films act as initiation sites for pores and hydrogen only assist to growth of pores. For the first time, the pore formation is reconciled with physical metallurgy principles, supported by observations of oxide films in aluminum castings. Results clearly indicate that pores are extrinsic defects and can be eliminated by careful design of the entire melting and casting process.