One of the most common misunderstandings in specifications for stainless steel fabrication relates to the post-fabrication treatments to restore or enhance the corrosion resistance.
Humanity’s use of materials has progressed over the millennia from natural resources such as plants and stone to manufactured materials such as ceramics, metals and plastics with a corresponding increase in consumption of energy and materials – and increasing waste production. In parallel, the world’s consumers have grown exponentially from about 1 billion in 1800, to 7.6 billion in 2018 and a predicted 9.8 billion in 2050 – all demanding more infrastructure, facilities and resources to support the expectations of higher standards of living. This has led to an increasing realisation that green production, recycling, waste reduction and more efficient use of resources are essential.
Connections are vital
Any visit to a dairy, beverage or food processing plant will drive home the critical importance of the connections between the tanks, mixers, driers, pumps, etc. The image above (courtesy of TFG Group) showing an image of a brewery is a typical example. These tubes and/or pipes carry the process materials, the heating or cooling or wash water, gases, and also dispose of the wastes.
The normal state for stainless
Stainless steels resist corrosion because they have a self-repairing “passive” oxide film on the surface. As long as there is sufficient oxygen to maintain this film and provided that the level of corrosives is below the steel’s capacity of the particular material to repair itself, no corrosion occurs. If there is too high a level of (say) chlorides, pitting occurs. As an example, 316 works well in tap water (<250ppm) all over Australia, but will rapidly corrode in seawater because seawater has very high chloride levels (20,000ppm).
Almost all of the stainless steels in use have 16% chromium or more and have nickel or other additions to make them austenitic and hence formable, tough and readily weldable. However, the formal definition of a stainless steel is that it is an iron- and carbon-based alloy with more than 10.5% chromium. Historically, the corrosion mitigation industry regarded alloys with more than 12% chromium as stainless steels mainly because those alloys did not corrode in mild environments. Because of the perceived problem of high initial price when using stainless steels, alloys that are ‘barely’ stainless (and with low nickel to boot) are more competitive with painted or galvanised carbon steel than higher alloys.
Stainless steel can provide excellent service underground. It is stronger than polymers and copper and its resistance to chlorides and acidic acids is significantly better than carbon or galvanised steels.
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Reasons for using stainless steel threaded fasteners are the same as those for selecting other stainless steel components - generally resistance to corrosive or high temperature environments. In addition to the obvious benefits in improved aesthetics and longevity however, there can be significant cost savings if the joint will require disassembly and reassembly.
The Workhorse of Hydrometallurgy
Posted 17 May 200
Stainless steel has earned a reputation as the material of choice for the mining and hydrometallurgical industries. This article discusses suitable grades and applications and the emerging opportunities for stainless steel in these industries.