The stainless steel and chemical industries have long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship and one that continues today as BASF SE marks its 150th year in operation.
“Especially in the early years of the 20th century, the chemical industry urgently needed development of stainless steel materials,” notes
in his Outokumpu Experience presentation on the importance of high performance stainless steel to the industry.
Today’s chemical industry still relies heavily on advancements in stainless steel. “Recent developments in iron- and nickel-based grades have helped the industry run efficient and improved processes,” Korkhaus says, “and create processes for new products.”
Balance between forces
In a fast-changing economy, evolving market forces make cost the new imperative. “The chemical industry is strongly responsive to its investors,” Korkhaus says. “Material selection is inevitably based on multiple factors, but if all requirements are met and the price is several euros less, that is an interesting prospect.”
As examples of that, he cites the recent development of lean duplex, and hopes to draw attention to austenitic steels with higher manganese content. “These grades contain less nickel,” he says, “and that makes pricing less volatile.”
Material selection requires a balance between compliance with stringent regulations and creation of an economical solution. “This does not necessarily mean the cheapest material,” Korkhaus notes. “Cost is always a factor, but the entire application must be carefully considered.”