Materials.Business Weekly ⚙️

February 09, 2021

Quote of the week: “Alloying is the greatest gift of metallurgy to humankind.” — B.S. Murty, J.W. Yeh, and S. Ranganathan

From The Editor's Corner


A big jump

For the past century, non-metallurgical people have often asked the question in the title, stainless steel - SS; a fact? And most of the time, we quickly answer yes. According to an announcement on the website of one of the currently leading international SS providers says that its steel to be used in medium to low corrosion aggressive environments. In other words, we are talking about a marvelous material developed around one century ago, and at that time, solved tremendous challenges and thus the given name: “stainless steel.” Demands for such a material started at the beginning of the 20th Century from the effervescent O&G industry, which needed answers to be found. Many of their corrosion problems were easily solved, thanks to Cr and Ni alloyed steels’ development. Inevitably, other sectors and industries such as the food industry, particularly milk processors, took advantage of the new material. Subsequently, some of the papers published in the Corrosion journal’s first editions dealt with SS in the food sector. In a nutshell, corrosion problems dropped immensely. Intriguingly, when talking about the impact of the corrosion phenomena, sometimes people in the food industry do not recognize their relationship with the subject, naively saying, for instance, that they do not have issues that concern corrosion costs. However, ultimately, most of their parts and equipment are made with SS, and so the corrosion problems are avoided, but at a high cost.

There are several versions of the discovery of SS. However, around the Second Industrial Revolution, it was clear that there was a development through open innovation, as many patents started to appear claiming different discoveries or approaches towards this material. If we look at the timeline that led to this, in 1751, the Swedish Chemist Axel Cronsted discovered nickel. By 1797 Chromium was found by the French Professor Nicolas Louis Vauquelin, who is recognized as one of the fathers of modern metallurgy. Now, it was only in 1881 that a British patent about corrosion-resistant Cr alloys was made. The following decades were characterized by the great activity of empirically exploring the effects of Cu, Ni, Cr, etc., on the steel behavior. Some papers about Cr and Ni alloyed steels were published in the 1900s. In the 1910s, German and British patents regarding some Ni and Cr alloy steels were awarded. Industrial production in Germany, England, and Sweden began soon after, mainly associated with cutlery manufacturing and other products. In 1915, The New York Times announced the US Consul’s news in Sheffield, UK, about introducing a non-rusting or preferably stainless steel. Sheffield is considered the cradle of SS. The development of austenitic and martensitic SS before the First World War was a significant jump in this field!

A vast horizon

Moreover, in 1924, in Sheffield, W. H. Hatfield invented the 18-8 SS or 304 steel that had good corrosion resistance, exhibited good toughness and ductility, and low maintenance requirements. Initial demands were from the cookware and surgical equipment industries due to these unique properties, allowing for easy cleaning and meeting hygienic conditions. However, with time, apart from these two industries and war, more critical needs came up from the following sectors; chemical, petrochemical, pulp & paper, transportation (trucks, cars, railway carriages, buses, etc.), architecture & building & construction (facades, roofing, membranes, plumbing & piping, etc.), food (beer, milk, etc.), drinking water, urban infrastructure, sculptures, desalination plants, biomass conversion, parts of engines, turbines, aircraft, boats, weapons, rockets, and much more. Further advancements were related to procurement (cheaper mass-production methods), processing (joining and so), and the development of other new grades. For example, in 1929, in Luxembourg, William Kroll invented the precipitation hardening SS, which showed a better weight-to-strength ratio. This property was extensively exploited during the Second World War in jet aircraft. In 1930, Avesta Ironworks in Sweden invented the duplex SS with a microstructure mixture of ferrite and austenite. As a result, duplex SS shows much better corrosion resistance and strength. Although its development only started 40 years after the invention, it currently accounts for about 1% of the global SS production.

The market


As a well-sought-out material, SS is expensive. Looking at the current global market, we can find that its prices are significantly higher than carbon steel (CS). When comparing the average costs of flat & long categories in 2020, in major markets (EU, Asia, and North America), prices per ton for CS and SS 300 were USD $ 615 and $2.300, respectively. That means that SS is almost four times more expensive than the engineering base material, CS. Simultaneously, international prices for the top four consumed SS grades and forms were USD $2.093 and $2.224 for SS 301 hot and cold rolled, respectively, and USD $3.043 (hot) and $3.216 (cold) for SS 316. SS is material for “rich” people, and countries with considerable economic powers are the biggest consumers. Taiwan led the per capita consumption in 2019 with 45 kg per person, followed by Italy, S. Korea, Germany, Japan, China, Spain, and lastly, the USA with 10 kilograms per person.


In 1929, the leading producer was the USA, with a yearly amount of 25.000 tons. In 2006, China became the first global producer and became the key player in defining prices and the market as a whole, producing more than 50% of the total SS production in 2013 and reaching 56.3% in 2019. Meanwhile, the contributions from other regions or countries' were split as 15.1% Asia (without China and Korea), 13% Europe, 5% USA, and 10.6% others (Brazil, Russia, S. Africa, S. Korea, and Indonesia). Europe produces double the amount than the Americas combined. However, the most important fact is that countries other than China have become price followers.

In 2019, the global SS market size was valued at USD $ 111.400 million and USD $119.300 million in 2020. The yearly growth during the coming years is expected to be around 6.3% (the highest compound annual growth rate of major metals). Consequently, the expected revenue for 2027 is estimated to be approximately USD $182.1000 million. In 2019, the global production of SS was 52.2 million tons (remember the global annual production of materials is around 1.800 million tons). Austenitic steels make up over 70% of total stainless steel production, and about 50% of the total austenitic production is SS 304. Cr-Mn grades (200 series) and Cr grades (400 series) share almost the rest of the whole production, in similar proportions. In alphabetic order, the key SS manufactures are:

- Acerinox (Spain)

- Aperam Stainless (Luxemburg)

- ArcelorMittal (Luxemburg)

- Baosteel Group (China)

- Jindal Stainless (India)

- Nippon Steel Corporation (Japan)

- Outokumpu (Finland)

- POSCO (S. Korea)

- ThyssenKrupp Stainless GmbH (Germany)

- Yieh United Steel Corp (China)

Furthermore, it is easy to understand that most of the other steel-producing countries and ironworks are very limited in producing SS because of the economies of scale constraints.

The distribution of the globally produced SS by form was 45.8% cold-rolled flat, 29.5% hot coils, 7.6% hot bars/wire rod, 6.6% cold bars/wire, 6.6% hot plate and sheet, 2.2% semi flats, and 1.6% semi longs. The SS global market share by application of use was 37.5% consumer goods, 29.1% heavy industry (chemical industry, heating cooling & ventilation, O&G, pulp & paper, food processing, water treatment, and energy industry), 12.2% construction and building, 8.5% motor vehicles and parts (17.5% in developed countries and 4.4% in developing ones), 7.7% electrical machinery, and 4.9% other transport applications. Remarkably, from the 1980s until the beginning of this century, SS tonnage was very similar to plastics production, but SS production has grown faster during these last two decades.

SS and the “New Normal”

As above-mentioned, global expectations about the future of SS are optimistic. SS is and will be an essential option in corrosion engineering practice. Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider that the post-pandemic world (the time when the 4th Industrial Revolution, Sustainability & Climate Change, and Social & Economic urgencies all come together) will differ from the traditional previsions. The prices, known technical limitations, market risks, and other issues are part of the reasons for thinking about the importance of a new big jump on SS. Researchers and industry leaders are looking for options, and now is the right time to review this and start exploring.

Remember: Protection of materials and equipment is a profitable business!

Prof. Carlos Arroyave, Ph.D. Editor.

Materials Biz News

​A vibrant future for new alloys and corrosionists, too

- David Alman, Associate Director of Materials Engineering and Manufacturing at the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, has published an interesting article about the current and coming pace of materials engineering development in the POWER Magazine. His Laboratory’s experience supports his document, and it is oriented to materials for energy systems. According to the author, materials are foundational technology. There is a tremendous need for better cost-effective, and high-performance materials to improve efficiency, emissions reduction, and the extension of electricity-producing power plants’ lives. Requirements include new materials able to resist higher temperatures, pressures, corrosive environments, and operational changes. These are conditions imposed by the existing power systems and arriving advanced technologies on turbines, gasification, ultra-supercritical steam cycles, supercritical carbon dioxide power cycles, direct power extraction, etc. Recent advances by Alman’s lab and other government and private partners include:

- A corrosion-resistant refractory brick for slagging gasifiers.

- A computational method to optimize heat treatments of large-scale castings from complex heat-resistant alloys.

- A sensor technology to monitor ingot production during vacuum arc remelting.

- A process for producing zirconium for nuclear-powered submarines.

- A coronary stent made from platinum-chromium alloy, thin, visible on X-ray, highly flexible, with higher corrosion resistance, and optimized long-term stability within the body.

- A titanium alloy for personal body armor and a variant to protect vehicles from explosive device blasts.

Examples of current research are:

- A Fe-9Cr ferritic/martensitic steel for extreme environments.

- Several Ni-super alloys concepts.

- High-entropy alloy development for energy applications.


Protecting alloys for beautiful artwork

A Ph.D. research developed at the National Center for Metallurgical Research and endorsed by Carlos III University, in Madrid, Spain, was defended at the end of 2020 by Dr. Ana Crespo. The research dealt with the study of accelerated formed patinas on weathering steel contemporary sculptures. A summary of the thesis, given by the author, shows the relevance of pretreatment as a good practice in weathering steel selection and use: “Accelerated patinas are those that have been created with chemical treatments applied on the surface of weathering steel as part of the creative process of the artists. Although this is a widespread practice in contemporary art, there are no studies about the influence that accelerated patinas may have on the artwork's conservation. This Ph.D. focuses on accelerated patinas' evolution to an urban atmosphere for 24 months; during this time, a full characterization of the rust layer, electrochemical properties, and aesthetical properties of the patinas have been monitored. The starting hypothesis was that accelerated patinas are a detriment to the conservation of the artwork. However, after 24 months of atmospheric exposure, it has been concluded that, in an urban atmosphere, these patinas are even beneficial. They act as a barrier against corrosion, and the initial corrosiveness effect of the chemicals diminishes as time goes by. Besides, in cross-section Raman mapping, ferrihydrite associated with high chromium concentration has been identified in the corrosion layer's inner part. This phase is difficult to characterize due to its small crystal size, and it may play an important role in the corrosion process; based on the literature and the results obtained, a new intermediate step of the corrosion mechanism in weathering steel has been formulated”.

-Read More-

Digitalizing O&G industry

Petrobras, the Brazilian public company specializing in the oil, natural gas, and energy industry, has awarded Baker Hughes a contract to expand digital solutions and reduce risk and emissions across its sites in the Country. Baker Hughes is an energy technology company based in the USA which will be in charge of support Petrobras’ thermal plants; refineries; gas treatment units; production plants; offshore platforms; floating production, storage, and offloading units (FPSO) with its hardware and software technologies, ensuring that the latest regulatory requirements are achieved. The order includes flare monitoring and calibration technologies, cybersecurity and remote monitoring services, and interconnected machinery protection systems and sensors.

-Learn More-


Educating the next Chemical and Petroleum Engineers Kansas, USA.

Position: Assistant Teaching Professor - Chemical & Petroleum Engineering

Seeker: University of Kansas

Location: Lawrence, Kansas, USA

The basic profile of the candidate:

- Education: A Ph.D. Degree in Chemical or Petroleum Engineering or closely related field

- Technical skills: Ability to work with students, faculty, and administrators; and interest in pedagogical design and improvement in course teaching.

Job description: Teaching at theundergraduate and graduate levels,contributions to the course improvement, and perform service to the Institution.

Attractive business opportunity in cathodic protection

Our Colleague Abdullah Alqarni, owner of Saham Cathodic Protection Manufacturing Company, based in Dhahran, Dammam metropolitan area, Saudi Arabia, is looking for partners to rocket his enterprise. According to Abdullah’s message, one of the Company’s investors asks for a technical partner involved with sacrificial anode applications, plant equipment, technical assistance, trained labor, and labor training.

Contact: [email protected]

Are you interested in a research stay in Germany?

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is organizing an online meeting about “Research in Germany.” Participants will be representatives from German universities and research and funding institutions. Some of the issues to discuss are:

- Career and funding opportunities for Ph.D. programs.

- Funding and career opportunities for postdocs and early researchers.

- Junior research group leaders: Careers at research institutes.

- Opportunities for postdocs at universities and research centers.

- Different ways to a professorship.

- International researchers living in Germany: Visa, work permit, social security, housing, language, and mobility program.

Date: Friday, February 26th, 2021.

Time: 09:00 - 11:30 EST (GMT – 5)

Networking & Knowledge Exchange

Refinery coatings. Virtual

TWI invites to attend a webinar entitled “Qualification of Coatings for Refinery Processes,” mainly oriented to materials engineers and process plant managers responsible for maintaining and repairing oil and gas refineries and related process plants. The speech will be given by Dave Harvey, Technology Fellow on Surface Engineering. Subjects to be presented include the TWI’s recent experience in testing and evaluating thermal spray coatings, paints & ceramic coatings, test coupons, process environments simulation, and applications on sour gas stripping vessels.

Date: Thursday, February 24th, 2021.

Time: 11:00 - 11:45 GMT

Solutions for an energy transition problem. Virtual

DENSO, a corrosion prevention and sealing technology Company, is organizing a webinar on “How to Prevent Corrosion of Wind Turbine Anchor Bolts Using the Denso Petrolatum System.” The purpose of the seminar is to discuss how to prevent corrosion of wind turbine anchor bolts and other areas of these structures subject to corrosion, how Denso products work, and their application guidelines. The speaker will be Thomas Keadle, Technical Manager, and NACE CIP Level 2.

Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

Time: 11:00 - 11:30 EST (GMT – 5)

Another facet of new materials protection challenges. Virtual

The future webinar of the free online series organized by the Ontario (Canada) Chapter of ASM, entitled “Materials Challenges in Space,” will be given by Jennifer Domanowski from the Materials Engineering Branch of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Currently, Domanowski is one of the more renowned young Materials Engineers in the USA, received several recognitions because of her contributions to the aerospace industry. Items to be discussed include some of the unique materials challenges in space (severe temperatures, vacuum, unexpected sources of contamination, and other factors) and cover some of the extensive testing required for materials to prove that they can survive in the harsh conditions of the final frontier.

Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2021.

Time: 20:00 EST (GMT – 5)

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash