Where does stainless steel come from?
Credit:Glow Images, IncGlowGetty Images
Q:

Where does stainless steel come from?

A:

Quick Answer

Stainless steel is composed of iron, carbon and chromium. Modern stainless steel may also contain other elements, such as nickel, niobium, molybdenum and titanium. The elements of nickel, molybdenum, niobium and chromium enhance the corrosion resistance of stainless steel.

 Know More

Full Answer

In 1913, English metallurgist Harry Brearly, who was working on a project to improve rifle barrels, discovered that adding chromium to low carbon steel gives it stain resistance. The addition of a minimum of 12 percent chromium to the steel is what makes it resist rust, or stain "less" compared to other types of steel.

The chromium in the steel combines with the oxygen in the atmosphere to form a thin, invisible layer of chrome-containing oxide, which is called passive film. As the sizes of chromium atoms and their oxides are similar, they pack tightly together on the surface of the metal, forming a stable layer only a few atoms thick.

Austenitic, ferritic and martensitic are the three main types of stainless steel. Austenitic stainless steels have an austenitic crystalline structure, which is a face-centered cubic crystal structure. Ferritic stainless steels have reduced corrosion resistance, due to their lower chromium and nickel content. However, ferritic steels generally have better engineering properties than austenitic grades and are typically more affordable. Martensitic stainless steels are not as corrosion-resistant as austenitic and ferritic steels, but they are extremely strong and can be hardened by heat treatment.

Learn more about Chemistry

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What metals are used to make stainless steel?

    A:

    Stainless steel is an alloy containing at least 11.5 percent chromium and at least 50 percent iron. Additional components are nickel, carbon, manganese, silicon and nitrogen. The amount of each component is varied according to the desired use.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What elements make up stainless steel?

    A:

    According to U.K. metals stockholder Aalco, stainless steel production includes the alloying of iron with carbon, manganese, chromium, nickel, molybdenum, nitrogen, copper, titanium, phosphorus, sulphur, selenium, niobium, silicon, cobalt and calcium. Alloying additions depend on the steel's grade and composition.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the chemical formula for stainless steel?

    A:

    Stainless steels are iron alloys that contain 10.5 percent chromium and can be enhanced with other metals, such as copper, titanium, molybdenum and nickel. Stainless steel can also be improved for various applications by adding non-metals to its structure, such as nitrogen and carbon. The chromium-rich oxide layer on the surface of the steel makes for an alloy that is easily repairable.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Which metals make up stainless steel?

    A:

    Stainless steel is a special form of steel that is made of chromium added to steel. Regular steel is an alloy that is made of both iron and carbon. There are different types of stainless steel depending on how much chromium is added and if there are any other elements added in small amounts like nickel.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore