Chromium is the secret to stainless steel

Many great discoveries have been stumbled onto almost by accident.

It was not until the early 1900’s when Harry Brearley from Sheffield – while working on another problem – discovered that adding the element chromium to ordinary steel greatly improves its corrosion resistance, that is, its resistance to rust. At the same time in Germany, Benno Strauss and Eduard Maurer worked on exactly the same topic.

The innovation was born almost simultaneously in two places. The patent for stainless steel was granted in December 1912. Both of the companies that discovered stainless steel are today part of Outokumpu.

It was shown that chromium reacts with oxygen to form a protective film on the steel’s surface, which, moreover, repairs itself when scratched. This ensures that a kitchen knife, or any other household item, can be worn down by years of use and still remain stainless. The unbeatable strength and corrosion resistance of stainless steel makes it a perfect material for a multitude of uses.