Stainless steel is strong, hygienic, corrosion resistant and recyclable. The combination of corrosion resistance and durability increases product lifetimes. These properties make it an ideal choice for a variety of demanding industrial and consumer applications. Several life-cycle studies indicate that in many applications the total cost of stainless steel is lower than that of competing materials; in certain cases, cost savings can be in the range of 30% to 40%, due to reduced repair and maintenance costs. Stainless steel's unique properties make it difficult to find substitutes.
Almost 100% of stainless steel can be recycled and it is not degraded when reprocessed. The raw material constituents (e.g. nickel, chrome, iron) can therefore be recycled indefinitely for the production of new stainless steel.
In many applications, such as desalination and production of renewable energy such as solar and water power or biofuel, the environment is corrosive because of for example salty seawater or high temperature. For these processes, stainless steel is the optimal material. Its inherent corrosion resistance properties also mean that surface coatings or painting, which can be harmful to the environment, are not needed to enhance the life cycle of a product. And as only extremely low levels of metal ions are released from stainless products when exposed to most normal environments, no harmful impact to the environment is created.
The corrosion resistance also increases the lifetime of the product. The increased durability means that unnecessary replacements and repairs with a subsequent need for new resources can be avoided. In addition stainless steel also has good mechanical properties. These can be exploited to manufacture lighter components and products, without compromising safety requirements.
The development of new stainless steel grades allows green building requirements to be met with the added corrosion resistance that helps to increase the entire structure’s lifespan.
Maintenance and life cycle
In order to create renewable energy (solar/water/biofuel), the material needs to be long-lasting and maintenance-free to ensure low life cycle costs.
Outokumpu stainless steel is an excellent solution for sustainable construction. As described elsewhere, the properties of stainless steel already make it a sustainable choice. Outokumpu can also provide products that have CE marking as required by the EU Construction Products Regulation; additional information is available in the form of Environmental Product Declarations and LEED or BREEAM fact sheets. Almost all steels are also eligible for registration in BASTA, the Swedish database for sustainable construction materials.
High-strength grades enable the use of thinner gauges in a variety of applications such as tanks, pressure vessels and piping, and also in transportation, civil and structural engineering solutions. This leads to considerable savings in material costs and application weight, and enables more efficient sustainable life cycles with corresponding energy savings and reduced emissions.
High strength stainless, in addition to its many desirable properties, can also be tailored to increase safety. For example, high strength stainless steel can absorb up 60% more collision energy in case of accidents.
Stainless steel is the first material choice for hospital equipment and surgical instruments since it can be easily cleaned and sterilized for constant re-use, without degradation. Most processing equipment used in the production of pharmaceuticals, and for the preparation of food products, is also made from stainless steels for similar reasons. Stainless steel has also helped to make the process of desalination (i.e. producing potable water from seawater) economically viable. Thus many arid areas of the world can now enjoy the benefits that come from the availability of fresh water.
A selection of Stainless steel complying with BASTA and BVB