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New Steel May Not Need Coating

Monday, May 23, 2011

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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.

Corrosion-Resistant Steel

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

 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.

 Drs. Randall Irvin and Dongyang Li

 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.


Tagged categories: Corrosion resistance; Marine Coatings; Protective coatings; Research

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/24/2011, 8:30 AM)

It would be nice if they would refer to a particular grade of stainless steel when making these sweeping claims. Is it a lower corrosion rate than 304? 316? 317? How does the corrosion rate compare to weathering steel (COR-TEN)? What about pitting resistance (PREN)?

Comment from Gerry Churchwell, (5/24/2011, 3:24 PM)

I am curious to see how these are rec'd in the construction industry. Owners are usually very short sighted when it comes to spending addition money on projects when the benefits may be years from evidence.

Comment from DANIEL COSTANTINI, (5/25/2011, 5:09 AM)

I am highly skeptical of these products. Cor ten is being painted everywhere.put in a severe corrosive environment for a significant period, and then I will believe!

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/25/2011, 8:31 AM)

I'm not sure what is meant by "being painted everywhere" - here is one of our many unpainted weathering steel bridges in Texas. don't know of any push or effort to paint them, other than some areas where a few linear feet over a column is painted to avoid the rust staining. Even then, painting is not the best option - stainless drip trays are better.

Comment from William Gusnard, (5/26/2011, 5:35 PM)

This all sounds good until your system can accidentially get washed down with water containing an average chlorine content of 20,000 ppm and it can get as high as 50,000 ppm chlorides due to all the new water discharge requirements. These systems are coated with specialized coatings because we are not just worried about corrosion on these piping utility bridges but also chloride stress cracking as well. It would be very hard to get my management be be a onsey-twosey on a material that has not been in place at least 10 years - preferably in a similar environment - to see how it will really stand up.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/31/2011, 8:36 AM)

William, the Pennybacker Bridge was opened in 1982, and is certainly not our oldest weathering steel bridge in Texas. There are a couple of bridges over highways around Austin (51st st/Loop1, IH35 south of 290) which date to 1977 and are in excellent condition.

Comment from Dennis Broecker, (6/1/2011, 8:46 AM)

The old headquarters of Bundy Tubing, located at 12345 E Nine Mile road in Warren Michigan was produced in 1946 using similar materials. If you search the internet there is a good picture of the building, as it is up for sale. The upright "tubes" have been unchanged for over 60 years.

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