Stainless steel is an iron-carbon alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content, and as the name says, it has the great advantage of not rusting or corroding as easily as ordinary steel. Stainless steel's resistance to corrosion
and staining, low maintenance, relative inexpense and familiar luster make it an ideal base material for a host of commercial applications.
The alloy is milled into sheets, plates, bars, wire and tubing to be used in cookware, cutlery, hardware, surgical instruments, major appliances, industrial equipment, a structural alloy in automotive and aerospace assembly and building material in skyscrapers and other large buildings.
A new type of stainless steel alloy, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is the "Superman" of its class, offering superior oxidation resistance compared to conventional stainless steels while in the same time being affordable, with no significant increase in production costs.
High oxidation resistance in air at ambient temperature is normally achieved with additions of a minimum of 13% (by weight) chromium and up to 26% is used for harsh environments, creating a thin layer, too thin to be visible.
The new superalloy does not rely on chromium oxide scales, instead it gets the ability to withstand corrosion and creep due to aluminum oxide scales. It presents the most effective combination of creep and oxidation resistance available, that only nickel-base alloys could achieve. Unfortunately, these alloys are about five times more expensive to produce than the new super stainless steel.
The new material could find a wide range of potential applications, due to its ability to operate at higher temperatures (up to 800 degrees Celsius), making it very useful in other chemicals, in various areas of the industry.
Even common households could benefit from the enhanced corrosive-resistant properties of the new material, since stainless steel is the fourth common material used in metal wall tiles and is used for its corrosion resistance properties in kitchens and bathrooms.