Solar farms are blooming in fields across the globe and producing a new crop: solar energy. Photovoltaic (PV) systems made up of solar panels, are fast becoming the most recognisable of renewable energy technologies.
Materials selection for any piece of equipment or a process system is rarely a simple task, unless you are exactly replicating something successful. Often engineers will have a checklist to help them narrow down the choices, eliminating groups of materials that are not suitable for various reasons. Austenitic 300 series stainless steels containing 7-35% nickel will have most if not all of the boxes checked for being suitable where a stainless steel is desired.
Each family of stainless steels has its strengths and weaknesses. Ferritic stainless steels have useful properties – a lower rate of thermal expansion, higher thermal conductivity, strong ferromagnetism and very high resistance to chloride stress corrosion cracking (SCC). When looking at selecting any alloys, it is important to consider all the factors for successful usage.
Awareness about robustness and durability of bridge design has grown since Morandi’s time. The new San Giorgio Bridge (its successor) in Genoa was designed by Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 2020.
The duplex alloys are “problem-solving alloys” for good reason, they have been successfully used in many places where carbon steels and standard austenitic alloys have failed. Just like with the austenitic family, there are many different duplex alloys to choose from, with corrosion resistance varying from moderate with the lean duplex alloys to very high with the superduplex alloys.
The selection of an alloy should be guided by careful examination of the needs of the application. Before making a switch, it’s important to fully investigate an alloy’s strengths, weaknesses and applicability to your structure.
A new generation of designers, materials specifiers, architects and engineers is being introduced to the wealth of technical information curated by the Nickel Institute. An archive of technical guides and know-how for working with nickel-containing materials, including stainless steel, that has been built over thirty years is now being updated and made freely available.
Most nickel production is destined for stainless steel. But a significant 8% is used in the production of alloy steels which are needed to deliver specific characteristics for specialised and often critical applications.