The future of stainless steel

In this particular issue of Nickel, we take a look back and consider using stainless steel to grow rapidly over the past 100 years. In 1914, stainless steel production around the world was about 100 tons. In 1934, the production of America alone was estimated at 42,000 tons. In 2011 the world production was 32 million tons. Despite all the alloy developments and the economic crisis of the last decade, nickel alloys in the 300 category account for nearly 2/3 of all stainless steels manufactured worldwide. In addition, martensitic and super-ferrite alloys are available in the 200-type nickel.

Why are nickel-containing alloys still in great demand?

The simple answer is that the nickel provided has a large value placed on the properties. This decades article illustrates many, but not all other attributes, for example, good solderability and formability of stainless steel type 300. For more information on nickel properties brought to stainless steel, Please see the “Advantages of Nickel”.

Continued growth of stainless steel has also encouraged the activities of the Stainless Steel Development Association, providing the world’s many useful materials and services in their locality.

However, what do future organizations do? Nothing is sure of course, though
we can make some reasonable predictions. Here is what we see. The demand for all types of stainless steel, containing nickel and nickel-free, will continue to grow. As the world’s population grows and income levels increase, people will buy high quality goods that are long lasting and easy to sustain. In the food and beverage industry, both the public and the government expect high standards to ensure that the bacteria does not pollute the food supply. This will increase the demand for stainless steel. We have seen milking equipment and stalls in the warehouse made of stainless steel to allow for easy disinfection after each use.

Hygiene standards are also high in the drinking water and waste water industries. Out
from desalination plants, brackish water treatment or seawater and therefore require stainless steel alloys, the appliances used continue to consist mainly of 304L and 316L. Made of stainless steel will continue to be popular, while the use of stainless steel for “obscuring” applications such as plumbing, screws and fire protection will increase.

An increasing number of stainless steel will be used in the production of vehicles, reflecting the need for long life and low maintenance, reduced vehicle weight and increased passenger safety.

New features will be developed as extensible applications. For example, in the power industry, where high steam temperatures mean that the conversion efficiency of larger fuels, new cost-effective stainless steel is needed.

In the chemical processing industry, concerns about safety and environmental protection will result in increased use of austenitic and stainless steels.

In the next hundred years, the standardization and rationalization of stainless steel alloys around the world, already in this way, will be completed.

This will provide cost benefits to stainless steel mills, which will be delivered to end users. However, 304 stainless steel continues to be the most common alloy produced. The final rate of stainless steel recycling life, which is quite high at around 90%, will even increase further as more people understand the importance of restoring valuable elements. We have seen stainless steel from the laboratory to use in our society. We can only speculate on what could have happened in the next hundred years, although one thing we’re sure about: nickel steel and stainless steel will continue to be used extensively, providing services, valuable for humanity. 

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