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Last updateFri, 23 Sep 2016 2pm

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An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

An Alternative Basics Education: Valve Ed Comes to You!

For the first time in the seven-year his...

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Give Your Flow Meter a Happy Home

Increased emphasis on the need to improv...

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

What’s in Store for the Construction Market?

As was the case with many of the present...

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Pentair Valves & Controls Hosts Customer Appreciation Training Event

2 DAYS AGO
Pentair Valves & Controls Hosts Customer Appreciation Training Event

More than 200 representatives from Houston’s refinery, chemical and petrochemical industries joined Pentair Valves & Controls on Sept. 15 at its Pasadena, TX facility for a customer appreciation BBQ and training event . The presented seminars are a part of Valves & Controls’ Pentai...

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Mueller Water Products Recognized for Best Smart Water Solution

3 DAYS AGO

Mueller Water Products, Inc. received the 2016 Best Smart Water Solution award at the third annual Smart Water Summit in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Mueller Water Products, who won this award for the second time, was recognized for smart technology solutions offered through its Mueller Co., Mueller System...

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Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Water Resources Development Act

2 DAYS AGO

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 with a broad bipartisan vote of 95 to 3. This legislation not only authorizes critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that drive investment in navigation, flood management, and ecosystem restoration, it provides ...

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Alaska Railroad Prepares First U.S. Shipments of LNG

3 DAYS AGO

The Alaska Railroad (ARRC) will demonstrate its ability to safely transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) in intermodal LNG ISO containers from southcentral to interior Alaska during a month-long operational performance project in early fall 2016.

ARRC is the first railroad in the country to obtain permi...

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Manufacturing Growth Eases Again in September

1 DAY AGO

At 51.4 in September, the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was down from 52.0 in August and pointed to the weakest improvement in overall business conditions since June. The latest PMI reading marked seven years of continuous growth across the ...

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Leading Economic Indicators Down Slightly in August

2 DAYS AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. declined 0.2% in August to 124.1, following a 0.5% increase in July, and a 0.2% increase in June.

“While the U.S. LEI declined in August, its trend still points to moderate economic growth in the months ahead,” said Ataman Ozy...

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Less Expensive Stainless Steels

materials_q_and_a_graphicQ: High metal prices, especially for nickel and molybdenum, have our procurement people looking at less expensive stainless steels like the 200 series. Are these as good as 304 and 316 stainless steels?

A: Before answering this question, let’s look at the history and differences between the 200 and 300 series stainless steels. The original 200 series stainless steels were first developed in the 1930s by using manganese to replace some of the nickel in the 300 series austenitic stainless steels. Certain elements used in stainless steels either promote the formation of the austenitic or ferritic atomic structure, and the austenitic stainless steels are the more corrosion resistant. The austenitic-forming elements are nickel, manganese, nitrogen, copper and carbon. The primary ferrite-forming element is chromium.

Since a stainless steel needs 10-12% minimum chromium to be considered “stainless,” it then takes about 8-10% nickel to offset the ferritic-forming tendency of chromium to make a stainless-steel austenitic more corrosion resistant. Historically, manganese has always been a lower cost element than nickel. So whenever there is a scarcity of nickel (as there was in the 1970s) or when nickel prices are high, such as they are now, people look to the 200 series stainless steels as lower cost alternatives.

But before deciding to use a 200 series stainless steel, there are issues to be considered. To further complicate the matter, there has been an increase in newer chrome-manganese grades developed and produced in Southeast Asia and China. The 200 series now represent 34% of China’s production of stainless steels.

Facts About the 200 Series

There are two categories of the 200 series stainless steels—those that only replace some of the nickel with manganese, such as the original 201 or 202 grades, and those that replace most of the nickel, such as the newer grades now being seen in Asia. These newer low-nickel grades also tend to have lower chromium, which further decreases their corrosion resistance.

To date there are no international standards for the use of these newer grades. To add additional confusion, users of stainless equipment, such as valves, know that magnetism—or more correctly, the lack of magnetism—is a way of verifying they have received the superior 300 series stainless steels. Since 200 series grades are non-magnetic, this could cause a buyer to mistakenly believe they have the correct and more corrosion-resistant 300 series stainless steel. In fact, there have been a few instances of deliberate mislabeling of 200 series grades as being 304 stainless. Some scrap dealers also still rely on magnetism to sort the 300 series grades from the magnetic and less corrosion-resistant 400 series stainless steels. Thus, the proliferation of the non-magnetic 200 series grades could lead to some serious scrap contamination issues if recyclers are not careful.

The first indication as to whether these grades are equivalent to 304 and 316 is they receive little attention until nickel either becomes scarce or when nickel prices are high. The primary reason they do not see greater use is simply because they are not as corrosion resistant as 304 and 316 stainless steels. However, the 200 series grades do have several beneficial uses, including cookware, railcars, lighting columns, washing machines and most mildly corrosive applications.

Problems with Corrosion

While the 200 series alloys do have good atmospheric corrosion resistance, they do not have good resistance to most corrosive chemicals. In addition, because most of the 200 series alloys tend to have a higher carbon content to help promote the austenitic structure, it makes them more susceptible to intergranular corrosion. Other characteristics that make the 200 series less attractive include their tendency to be more work hardenable and their potential to have slightly inferior surface finish.

So if you really need to lower your cost, you need to be very careful in the application of these 200 series stainless steels. A better choice would be to look at some of the duplex stainless steels such as S31803. The duplexes have about half the nickel of the 300 series so at the higher nickel prices they may be less expensive than the 300 series while providing comparable corrosion resistance. There are also some new lean (lower nickel) duplex grades on the market that may be even more cost effective. In any case, be sure to deal with reputable and knowledgeable suppliers who can assist you with the proper material selection.


Thomas Spence is director of materials engineering of Flowserve Corporation (www.flowserve.com). Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Don Bush, materials engineer, Emerson Process Management-Fisher Division (www.emersonprocess.com).

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