Materials.Business Weekly ⚙️

February 23, 2021

“You know, rust is just oxidation. The same chemical process as fire. Oxygen interacts with steel, electrons drift from one element to the other. So really, rust is a slow fire. Isn't that weird? Water causes something to burn.” — Elliot Wake (US writer, 1982 - , formerly known as Leah Raeder).​

From The Editor's Corner


Bridging knowledge generation and market products

​The most globally recognized innovation concept is the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development measures – OECD. According to their latest edition of the “Oslo Manual,” a general definition for innovation is “a new or improved product, or process (or a combination thereof) that differs significantly from the unit’s previous products or processes and that has been made available to potential users (product) or brought into use by the unit (process).” According to that definition, the possibilities of innovating stainless steel (SS) are directly associated with successfully introducing new products into the market or novel ways of producing SS. The company QuesTek Innovations LLC, for example, recently announced the launch of a 17-4 SS powder for powder-bed fusion in 3D manufacturing of complex, high-strength parts for aerospace, defense, medical, chemical processing, and energy onto the market. The secondary raw material in this product helps the SS avoids the high-temperature solution heat-treatment process. However, it still gives the SS equal or improved corrosion and fatigue performance than the SS produced with the currently available powders. Pathways for innovation are endless, but steps into these knowledge paths have usually been crossed before. Sometimes, it is about inventing, sometimes it’s researching, and other times it’s about the combination of researching and inventing together. And most times, the final result is protected by patents. Therefore, when we look to the future of SS, it is exciting and essential to look at the patenting process during the last few inventions and at the current, future-planned, and required research. In other words, we need to review the expected new developments and subsequent gaps that may form.

Patents supporting the coming innovations

As mentioned in the previous article, USPTO patented inventions concerning SS during the last decades are mainly related to new products and processes. In all cases, it is easy to identify what the commercial purpose of an upcoming innovation is. However, the final judge to determine the success of the newfound invention is, of course, the market. Looking back at the patent examples we had before, let’s summarize and bold points of interest in such patents:

- Patent: “*Austenitic stainless-steel sheet for exhaust component having excellent heat resistance and workability, turbocharger component, and method for producing austenitic stainless-steel sheet for exhaust component.*”

- A heat-resistance alloy achieved by the following composition: 0.005 to 0.2% C, 0.1 to 4% Si, 0.1 to 10% Mn, 2 to 25% Ni, 15 to 30% Cr, 0.01 to less than 0.4% N, 0.001 to 1% Al, 0.05 to 4% Cu, 0.02 to 3% Mo, 0.02 to 1% V, 0.05% or less P, and 0.01% or less S.

- Patent:Ferritic stainless-steel foil.

- A ferritic SS foil high in stretch-expand formability and further small in anisotropy of deformation concerning respect to stretch-expand forming useful for producing battery cases.

-Patent:“Stainless steel substrate.

- A SS substrate used for a fuel cell separator comprises Nb, without any intermetallic precipitate, and is excellent in corrosion resistance.

Now, let’s try this again, with recent patent applications:

- Application: “Ferritic stainless steel.

An SS steel having excellent creep resistance and thermal fatigue resistance, with the following composition 0.020% or less C, 0.1 to 1.0% Si, 0.05 to 0.60% Mn, 0.050% or less P, 0.008% or less S, 0.02 to 0.60% Ni, 0.001 to 0.25% Al, 18.0 to 20.0% Cr, 0.30 to 0.80% Nb, 1.80 to 2.50% Mo, 0.015% or less N, 0.002 to 0.50% Sb.

- Application: “New duplex stainless steel.

A SS with the following composition: less than 0.03% C; less than 0.60% Si; 0.40 to 2.00% Mn; less than 0.04% P; less than or equal to 0.01% S; more than 30.00 to 33.00% Cr; 6.00 to 10.00% Ni; 1.30 to 2.90% Mo; 0.15 to 0.28% N; 0.60 to 2.20% Cu; less than 0.05% Al.

- Application: “Stainless Steel Powder for Producing a Shaped Article.

A SS powder that can be used in a powder-shaping method involving a rapid melting process and a rapid cooling process for solidification to produce a shaped article that is less susceptible to solidification cracking. The disclosure composition of the new SS is: 10.5 – 20.0% Cr, 1.0 – 15.0% Ni, 0.0 – 2.0% C + Si + Mn + N, 0.0 – 5.0% Mo + Cu + Nb, and 0.0 – 0.03% P + S.

Research supporting upcoming patenting

One of the breakthrough innovations in the 20th century, resulting from in-depth research, was the invention of SS. Inevitably, due to a wave of additional research, many other innovations happened within the following years, thus allowing for a better way of life worldwide. Now, in the forefront of the arriving challenges in a (nearly)post-COVID-19 world, i.e., the “New Normal,” when people demand a better and sustainable living environment for all, SS emerges as one of the more promising and useful materials. Therefore, further knowledge must be sought out to overcome some old and new limitations. Assessing SS under the simultaneous merge of the challenges imposed by the 4th Industrial Revolution, the current social & economic urgencies, and the sustainability & climate change; has brought up several issues regarding its current limitations. According to Circular Economy’s criteria, the matters to be considered by researchers and innovators include:

​- A cheaper SS. An issue directly related to the cost of the alloying elements, the time, and the energy required for the SS production.

- A reduction in the product's manufacturing cost would also be essential.

- To increase the lifespan of the SS product as much as possible.

- In other words, to improve the SS behavior against highly corrosive environments.

- Furthermore, extending the lifespan of SS as much as possible also includes reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling options.

- To fix a global goal of zero disposal of SS.

​Nevertheless, current research shows some promises that could alleviate SS limitations. It is quite evident that the advantages achieved by emerging technologies such as nanoscale microscopy, improved spectroscopic options (e.g., synchrotron), photonics for a fast image caption, and lab automation could all be breakthroughs that we have been looking for. Furthermore, experimental methodologies like high-throughput screening and other new procedures, hardware & software tools recently developed for similar applications in chemical and pharmaceutical studies could also prove useful. Additionally, processes as rapid alloy prototyping turn the lab into a virtual factory, substituting experiments with tons of steel with just grams of samples instead. Hundreds of coupons are tested simultaneously instead of batches.

​With these new techniques, the results include points that need to be considered we touched on earlier. Some other examples from papers related to SS in Corrosion Science and some other journals during 2020 and 2021, and from the proceedings of CORROSION 2020 published by NACE International are as follows:

- Behavior in specific conditions.

- A multi-analytical approach was carried out to study the formation of the oxide film on low Cr-content stainless steel in the presence of fluoride ions as a pickling agent at a temperature of 950 °C. Only iron oxide was dissolved, and hematite islands appeared on the top of the passivating film.

- Another paper reports the development of a high-chromium ferritic SS strengthened by Laves phase precipitates promoted by the W content for high-temperature application in steam power plants.

- A broad study evaluated the properties of structural aircraft parts of 17-4 PH SS that are additively manufactured or repaired. The microstructure, density, chemical composition, and hardness were comparable to those of the counterpart wrought alloys. Nevertheless, problems concerning high standard deviation in hardness values, anisotropic geometrical distortion, and overbuild at top edges were observed.

- A deeper understanding of the passivation process.

- One paper gave a better explanation of the role of microstructural features (grain size, grain boundaries, and residual strain) on the formation of the passivating film.

- Another paper reported the study of the pit dissolution kinetics and repassivation. Researchers have since proposed a strategy for the development of new alloys.

- A study of the effect of the α/γ-phase ratio on pitting in duplex SS concluded that initiation was not dependent on such a balance. The growth rate increases with the α-phase ratio, presumably due to a lower amount of Cr and its depletion around Cr nitrides.

- New procedures and their effect on the properties.

- A recent paper reports the mechanism of pitting formation on SS 316L obtained by selective laser melting compared to a commercial wrought alloy. The critical pitting temperature was higher for the novel SS.

- A study devoted to assessing the electrochemical behavior of additively manufactured 22Cr duplex SS and 25Cr super duplex SS produced by laser powder bed fusion has shown comparable results to their corresponding wrought alloys at room temperature.

- An investigation on the wear and corrosion resistance of SS 316 prepared by laser melting deposition has concluded that microhardness and wear rate improved considerably compared to the conventional SS 316. And corrosion resistance was very similar.

- Effect of some novel alloying elements, treatments, and processes.

- A high nitrogen SS (FeCrMnMo(C+N)) has been developed while looking for applications in the O&G industry where nonmagnetic conditions, like drill collars, are required (CORROSION 2020 Paper C2020-14552).

- The production of a carburizing or nitriding thick layer on a martensitic SS has shown a very high surface hardening and superior corrosion resistance, conserving a strong, tough, and ductile core. (CORROSION 2020 Paper C2020-14887).

- One research project has opened the door for new alloy concepts, and a lovely one is high-entropy alloys (HEA). Without any doubt, this is one of the future pathways for SS. A paper reports the development of multi-principal element alloys, including Fe, Cr, Mo, Ni, and Co, with good corrosion resistance and good mechanical properties (CORROSION 2020 Paper C2020-14816).

- Mechanisms of attack.

- Microbially influenced corrosion - MIC is identified as one of the corrosion mechanisms with few answers yet. Despite a group of worldwide renewed authors, efforts had been not enough, and a holistic approach between management decisions and root causes is now proposed.

- With the growing attention to hydrogen as a fuel, issues concerning its interaction with SS growth have arisen. For instance, a study about the effect of H2 on the passivation layer formation has been investigated.

- A research project has determined the effect of W on the crevice corrosion resistance of super duplex SS. It was found that both the crevice initiation and repassivation are improved with the W presence.

​The innovation gap

​Reading the above summaries and contrasting with the general challenges described before, it is easy to conclude that researchers, engineers, and companies must still consider many other issues. Limitations are most often associated with technical or physical problems, instead of also including environmental and social ones. As mentioned in one of the papers, sometimes the challenge is how to manage issues holistically. An extensive ‘brain-swap’ of existing and new knowledge directly related to the people in charge of caring for materials and equipment is, of course, a priority. These and other reasons prove that more SS research should be aligned with individual and collective needs. SS offers the opportunity of a new leap into the field of anticorrosive materials, and we must take advantage of the new arriving possibilities of design, processing, and handling. Examples of current research in progress, in different scenarios, include:

​- A project in charge of the European Space Agency, the TECNALIA research center, and the firm TUBACEX, dealing with SS cleaning and passivation procedures using eco-friendly substances.

- The project AFORMAR, which is being developed at the National Center for Metallurgical Research in Madrid, led by Prof. Carlos Capdevilla, and his Ph.D. students. They are looking for the development of martensitic SS containing 10-18%Cr-2-15%Ni-4-6%Alumina for large components in energy generation systems.

- In a partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, ArcelorMittal Bremen, and other companies and research institutions from Spain, Poland, and Germany, have started a pioneer project dealing with the detection and sorting of alloys in scrap, based on laser emission spectroscopy. A more effective and efficient SS recycling process can be found by identifying the alloys’ composition and properties.

​Significant challenges like cheaper SS, de-alloying and elements recovery, lighter SS parts, easier welding processes, better behavior in increasingly harsh temperatures and corrosiveness, are some of the reasons why even more research and innovation regarding SS needs to be done.

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

Prof. Carlos Arroyave, Ph.D. Editor.

Materials Biz News

An excellent opportunity for collaborative research

The Corrosion Center of the Curtin University, Perth, Australia, is inviting industry partners worldwide to support a research project dealing with the study of commercial coating systems' behavior under harsh atmospheric corrosion conditions. The project is part of the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI)—Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and the Curtin University Corrosion Research alliance. Furthermore, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) will be taking part in this specific project. Researchers are looking for companies interested in placing the prepared test coupons across the globe.


Additive manufacturing is establishing itself as the great option

Demanding solutions as construction parts of a polar oil tanker are now printed. This is the result of a partnership between Sembcorp Marine (a specialized shipbuilder), ABS (a technology provider for the maritime sector), 3D Metal Forge (a manufacturer of 3D metallic parts), and ConocoPhillips (a global energy & petrol company operating fields in Alaska among others). As a result of this effort, they have announced the fabrication of a centrifugal pump shaft, a combined brine/air injector nozzle, and an effluent pump coupling device for the “Polar Endeavour” ship.

-Learn More-

A new marvel of engineering to take care of amid a harsh environment

With two years in operation and after eight years of construction, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge – HZMB - is the longest bridge-cum-tunnel sea crossing globally. The bridge connects Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai, in the Pearl River Delta, Southern China. It is 55 km long, comprising three cable-stay bridges, the longest one with 458 m long. The total main sea bridge is 29.6 km long. The rest of the structure includes four artificial islands and a 7 km undersea tunnel, with maximum deep of 45 m, as link roads. Some other figures about the work are a bridge deck area of 700.000 m2, covered by 420.000 tons of steel. The weight of the most prominent steel tower is 3.100 tons. HZMB was designed for a lifespan of 120 years, and its building cost was USD $18.800.000.

-Read More-


Towards a safe O&G operation

Position: Field Operations Maintenance Representative

Seeker: Saudi Aramco

Location: Saudi Arabia

The basic profile of the candidate:

- Education: BA/BS degree.

- Experience: Seven or more years of experience in operations and maintenance, plant engineering, construction, turnaround and inspection, safety program development, and process safety.

- Technical skills: Knowledge of modern safety management systems, processes, and techniques applicable to the oil and gas industry and international industry fire and safety codes, recommended practices, standards, and specifications.

- Bonus: Have a working knowledge of risk assessment, safety measurements, and other skills related to loss prevention O&G field operations.

Job description: The primary function is to provide daily support to line organizations to ensure that safety is adequately managed, considering subjects related to materials/corrosion/inspection engineering, operations & maintenance, and further engineering, safety & industrial security issues.

An excellent opportunity for a Ph.D. learning about aerospace materials. Munich, Germany

The Munich Aerospace alliance is awarding 14 scholarships for the development of research in aerospace research at the Technical University of Munich or the Bundeswehr University Munich. Subjects include applications of coding, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, and other emerging digitalization technologies. Some of the research will be also be related to hybrid lightweight structures obtained by additive manufacturing, alternative fuels, and emissions.

Working with leaders in the development of new materials. UK

Alloyed, a young venture-funded enterprise based in the UK, Japan, and the USA, has been introduced to build the future and deliver next-generation performance for advanced metal components. It approaches digital and physical tools to invent new alloys for the aerospace, automotive, electronics, and medical markets; devise new manufacturing processes, including 3D printing. Alloyed is seeking graduates and interns in fields like Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, and Chemistry. Open vacancies include design engineer, additive manufacturing, alloy development, machine learning/software, and computational science & engineering.

Networking & Knowledge Exchange

​​Another form of corrosion? Combat it! Virtual

CorrosionRADAR deals with a distributed sensing technology for predicting, detecting, and monitoring corrosion under insulation - CUI. As part of its training activities, The Company has scheduled a series of virtual coffee breaks. The coming session will be a panel devoted to “A Game Changer for CUI Management.” Panelists invited to discuss how the industry is driving new ways of working for a sustainable future are Ali Meshaikhis from Aramco, Mike Hill from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, and Michael Rodey from Cognite.

Date: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021.

Time: 12:00 m GMT

Corrosion management is critical for times to come. Virtual

Convinced about the importance of the subject, AMPP (formerly NACE International) continue promoting its training about the IMPACT PLUS – Strategy for Corrosion Management. According to the announcement, the objective group includes engineers with at least three years of experience or post-graduate degrees, asset owners, C-suite executives, senior-level managers, corrosion management consultants, asset management strategists, and IMPACT Plus licensees. Issues to be considered are an explanation about how to use a Corrosion Management System (CMS) within an organization, identify the five levels of the CMS Pyramid, summarize how a CMS benefits businesses and the environment through sustainability, apply the Corrosion Management Maturity Model (CMMM) to your organization, and describe how organizations can use the CMMM to extend the lifecycle of their assets and ensure consistency. Three upcoming courses are currently planned:

Date: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Time: 8:00 - 10:00 CST (GMT – 6)

Date: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021.

Time: 14:00 - 16:00 Dubai (UAE) Time Zone (GMT + 4)

Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2021.

Time: 8:00 - 10:00 CST (GMT – 6)

The water we drink. Virtual

RISE - The Research Institute of Sweden is organizing a seminar focused on current directives concerning handling materials in contact with drinking water. Recent research and best practices at the international level, including plastic, metallic and cement-based materials, will be discussed.

Dates and times:

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, 13:00 - 15:30 CET (GMT +2)

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, 9:00 – 11:30 CET (GMT + 2)

Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash