Basics of stainless steel
Stainless steel is a versatile and widely used material that plays a key role in many important areas, including urbanization, transportation and the production and consumption of food, water and other beverages, and energy. Stainless steel’s attractive properties, which include corrosion resistance, high strength-to-weight ratio, heat tolerance, aesthetic qualities and the ability to be recycled, have contributed to the increased use of stainless steel in new and existing applications.
Stainless steel differs from carbon steel by the chromium content: stainless steel contains a minimum of 10.5 percent chromium. One of the most important properties of stainless steel is corrosion resistance, which results from a thin layer of chromium oxide that forms on its surface in the presence of oxygen. The chromium oxide layer acts as a barrier between the stainless steel and its surroundings and is impermeable, insoluble and self-repairing in the presence of oxygen, whereas unprotected carbon steel rusts when exposed to air and moisture. In addition to chromium, typical alloying elements in stainless steel include nickel, molybdenum and nitrogen.