Lower alloyed grades resist corrosion in atmospheric and pure water environments, while high-alloyed grades can resist corrosion in most acids, alkaline solutions, and chlorine bearing environments, properties which are utilized in process plants.
Special high chromium and nickel-alloyed grades resist scaling and retain strength at high temperatures.
The easy cleaning ability of stainless makes it the first choice for strict hygiene conditions, such as hospitals, kitchens, abattoirs and other food processing plants.
Stainless steel is available in many surface finishes. It is easily and simply maintained resulting in a high quality, pleasing appearance.
Some grades will resist scaling and maintain high strength at very high temperatures, while others show exceptional toughness at cryogenic temperatures.
The work-hardening property of austenitic grades, that results in a significant strengthening of the material from cold-working alone, and the high strength duplex grades, allow reduced material thickness over conventional grades, therefore cost savings.
The majority of stainless steels can be cut, welded, formed, machined and fabricated readily.
The austenitic microstructure of the 300 series provides high toughness, from elevated temperatures to far below freezing, making these steels particularly suited to cryogenic applications.
In response to the growing awareness that our quality of life depends upon protection of our environment, consumers and regulators are directing their resources towards products less harmful to the environment. The challenge to engineers is clear: understand the “cradle to grave” characteristics of materials and make ever more satisfying products from ever more benign materials.
In use stainless steel is durable and requires a minimum of maintenance, outlasting many competing products and eliminating requirements for additional potentially hazardous materials such as paint, fire protective coatings, cleaners and solvents.
Stainless steel is a valuable scrap material. It is 100% recyclable and a preferred raw material input by steel makers. Stainless steel production incorporates high levels of scrap use (as high as 80% of charged materials will be scrap stainless steel).
New stainless steel comprises at least 50% recycled stainless steel product and more than half the stainless steel produced today has already been another useful stainless steel product in the past. Even beer kegs wear out eventually. Power is expensive and modern stainless mills operate close to the theoretical minimum.
Despite the very high recycling of old stainless steel products, some stainless steel will find its way to landfills or other disposal sites. In these circumstances no detrimental effect to soil or ground water is expected.
When the total life cycle costs are considered, stainless is often the least expensive material option.
To ensure a high quality of life, the materials that we use as consumers and manufacturers should meet not only technical performance standards, but have a Long Service Life, be Usable in a Great Number of Applications, and be Environmentally Friendly. Once their service is complete, they should be 100% Recyclable, thereby completing the life cycle to be used once again. Stainless Steel is such a material.
The longevity of stainless is the result of the alloying composition and, therefore, it has a natural corrosion resistance. Nothing is applied to the surface that could add additional material to the environment. It does not need additional systems to protect the base metal, the metal itself will last. Stainless steel needs less maintenance and its hygienic qualities means that we do not have to use harsh cleaners to get a clean surface. There is little or nothing to dump into the drain that could have an environmental impact.
Stainless steel products complete their service life. There is less concern about disposal since this material is 100% recyclable. In fact, over 50% of new stainless steel comes from old re-melted stainless steel scrap, thereby completing the full life cycle.
Reference: SSINA & ASSDA.