Will protective coatings become obsolete? Two manufacturers are boasting the development of new steel materials that are reportedly as tough as their conventional counterparts but with far more corrosion resistance.
The new materials are in the pipeline at Sumitomo Metal Industries, a 114-year-old Japanese steel manufacturer, and Toronto-based Arch Biophysics Ltd., where research is focusing on increasing the hardness of solid surfaces and decreasing corrosion of industrial products such as pipes and tubing.
Sumitomo Metal Industries Limited says it has developed corrosion-resistant steel made with tin that can even be used in salt-containing environments, such as marine environments, or in cold climates, where anti-freezing agents are sprayed.
The company says the new steel can be used for bridge construction, minimizing—or even eliminating—the need for coating or recoating.
Sumitomo Metal Industries
|Founded in 1897, Sumitomo Metal says its new steel lengthens the time between recoating.|
“Lengthening the intervals between repaints or lightening repainting workload will result in reduction in maintenance and management costs for bridges,” the company said in a release.
It adds: “As the new corrosion-resistant steel has high corrosion-resistant performance even with no coating, its application for bridges with no coating is also studied.”
Traces of Tin
The “secret ingredient” of the new steel is a trace of tin, which the company says “significantly improves corrosion resistance,” even in high-salt environments and even if rust cannot be sufficiently removed during repainting.
The new material also satisfies other basic performance properties of conventional steel used in bridge work, such as strength and weldability, according to Sumitomo.
The company is planning further studies on the duration between repaints and maintenance and on simplifying repainting. “We will thus contribute to cost reduction over the lifetime of steel bridges and savings in public work investment,” Sumitomo reports.
Bioorganic Stainless Steel
Meanwhile, scientists at Arch Biopartners Inc. and its subsidiary, Arch Biophysics Ltd., are reporting development of a new material, dubbed “bioorganic stainless steel,” that is significantly harder and more corrosion resistant than conventional stainless steel.
University of Alberta
|Drs. Randall Irvin (left) and Dongyang Li say their new “bioorganic stainless steel” is 40% harder than conventional stainless steel and has a 50% lower corrosion rate.|
The new material was generated by a previously unreported type of chemical interaction between novel synthetic peptides and stainless steel. Three Arch Biophysics scientists are working on the project at the University of Alberta, where the company has a technology development center.
50% Lower Corrosion Rate
Bioorganic stainless steel has a significantly increased electron work function that displays altered properties relative to the initial starting material, Arch says.
The process yields a product that is about 40% harder than regular stainless steel, has about half the corrosion rate, and is “readily fabricated,” according to “A peptide – stainless steel reaction that yields a new bioorganic – metal state of matter,” to be published in the journal Biomaterials.
The company foresees applications in the industrial and other sectors.
Arch Biophysics’ technology development program has created novel synthetic biological molecules that bind to solid surfaces such as steel, titanium and glass. The resulting surfaces have enhanced biological and physical characteristics, the company says.