Expert Talk

High alloyed 654 SMO stainless steel closes the gap to titanium

Rodrigo Signorelli

Lead Technical Manager

Rodrigo Signorelli outlines how Ultra 654 SMO austenitic stainless steel offers a cost-effective way to close the gap to titanium in demanding seawater applications.

Ultra 654 SMO has built a reputation as the world’s most corrosion resistant stainless steel. That makes it a serious alternative to more expensive nickel alloys for the most demanding and hostile applications, especially where seawater is involved.
Ultra Alloy 654 SMO  

The seawater challenge 

Seawater is a neutral chloride solution with a chloride level between 18,000 to 30,000 ppm. It can be a very challenging environment for materials used in heat exchangers where it can cause localized pitting and crevice corrosion as well as stress corrosion cracking (SCC). A further issue can be the temperature dependent formation of biofilms that further affect performance. Generally, typical stainless steel grades such as 316L are not up to the seawater challenge, and there is a tendency to use titanium alloys that are usually very good in this type of environment. But this represents a significant leap in cost, which is why Ultra 654 SMO can offer an interesting intermediate solution for heat exchangers.

About Ultra 654 SMO 

Ultra 654 SMO has an austenitic structure and is suitable for use over a wide temperature range where it offers very good resistance to uniform corrosion, exceptionally good resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion (PRE 28 to 56) and very good resistance to SCC. Its corrosion resistance in chloride environments is higher than nickel-alloy 625 and similar to C-276. In addition, Ultra 654 SMO offers excellent formability, good weldability and is non-magnetic. Its high mechanical strength combined with good elongation is ideal for the design of strong and lightweight heat exchangers.

 Steel grade EN UNS C Cr Ni Mo N Other
 316L  1.4404 S31603 0.02 17.2 10.1 2.1 - -
 DX 2205 1.4462 S32205 0.02 22.4 5.7 3.1 0.17 -
Ultra 904L 1.4539 N08904 0.01 19.8 24.2 4.3 - 1.4Cu
Ultra 254 SMO  1.4547 S31254 0.010 20 18 6.1 0.2 Cu
Ultra 654 SMO 1.4652 S32654 0.010 24 22 7.3 0.5 3.5Mn, Cu
Alloy 625 2.4856 N06625 0.030 22 Min 58 9 - 3.5 Nb+Ta
Alloy C-276 2.4819 N10276 0.010 16 Min 52 16 - 3.5W, 2.5Co
Titanium Gr. 4 3.7065 R50700 0.080 - - - 0.05 O, Fe, H
Table 1: Composition of Ultra 654 SMO. 

 Steel grade Price indication ILLUSTRATIVE
 316L 1
254 SMO 3-4
Ultra 654 SMO 5-8
Alloy 625 9-12
Titanium Gr. 4 15-20x more
Table 2: Historical market price indications, mainly influenced by fluctuations in raw material costs.

A cost effective solution

Table 2 shows that, while Ultra 654 SMO is significantly more expensive than 316L (8 times) it is considerably more cost-effective than titanium alloy (15 to 20 times 316L). Furthermore, as shown in Table 1, Ultra 654 SMO has a lower nickel (Ni) and molybdenum (Mo) content than high alloyed grades, resulting in better price stability over time. 

 Steel grade Rp.02[MPa]  Rm[MPa]  A50[%]
 316L  ≥ 170  ≥ 485  ≥ 40
DX 2205  ≥ 450  ≥ 655  ≥ 25
Ultra 904L  ≥ 220  ≥ 490  ≥ 35
Ultra 254 SMO  ≥ 300  ≥ 650  ≥ 40
Ultra 654 SMO  ≥ 430  ≥ 750  ≥ 40
Alloy 625  ≥ 330  ≥ 730  ≥ 35
Titanium Gr. 4  ≥ 480  ≥ 550  ≥ 15

Table 3. Ultra 654 SMO offers an interesting combination of strength and formability. 


Strength combined with formability 

An important benefit of Ultra 654 SMO, as shown in Table 3, is that it combines both strength and significantly better formability than titanium. 


Resistance to pitting corrosion 

Ultra 654 SMO offers excellent resistance to pitting corrosion under ASTM G48E testing, with a CPT comparable to Alloy C-276. 

Table 4. Ultra 654 SMO offers excellent resistance to pitting corrosion, comparable to Alloy C-276. 

Summary – a powerful case for Ultra 654 SMO 

When considering all the properties of Ultra 654 SMO – including resistance to corrosion, high mechanical strength and good formability – it has clear potential to close the gap to titanium in demanding seawater applications such as heat exchangers. 

White paper

Ultra Alloy 825 thrives in extremely corrosive environments

Ultra Alloy 825 is building a strong track record as an important alternative to stainless steel in demanding applications subject to extremely corrosive environments. It is ideally suited to help OEMs and operators in the oil and gas industries address the challenges of processing sour gas.

Download our latest white paper and learn what makes Ultra Alloy 825 a sweeter choice for sour applications.

Download white paper

Recommended products


Expert talks


Outokumpu ready to roll out high-performance Sanicro® 35 corrosion-resistant alloy


Ultra 654 SMO – the cost-effective stainless steel alternative to nickel alloys

Technical article

Solving the material challenges of plate heat exchangers


Making of strong stainless with formability

Case heat exchangers

Hot & cold


Duplex in heat exchangers

Case Sole AS

Case spiral heat exchanger tubes