The stainless steel is an alloy , ie, one of the various mixtures of metal iron with other chemical species. This is characterized by not presenting the oxidation phenomenon . Most metals, in the presence of moisture, react with the oxygen in the ambient air, and transform into its oxide.For example, the metal iron, with the symbol Fe, is transformed into ferrous oxide, with the formula FeO, also called rust . Matter is no longer metal, as it is, so it no longer fulfills its functions.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of metallurgists discovered that by adding approximately 10.5% by weight of chromium to steel, the resulting material is resistant to corrosion. Thus, stainless steel is a mixture of iron with a low percentage of carbon, and 10.5% or more of chromium .

Stainless steel has two main qualities: it is a metallic material and does not degrade in an oxidation process in contact with moisture and air. Therefore, it is extremely versatile to replace metallic materials in a multitude of purposes, in which they could rust and be less durable.

Stainless steel is used for:

  • Make chemical containers
  • Make food containers
  • Create components for machinery
  • Manufacture appliance covers
  • Create utensils
  • Create tools
  • Create tables for chemical laboratories

Make chemical containers

Stainless steel is the main choice for building gigantic containers for various fields, such as the chemical industry. In H 2 SO 4 sulfuric acid production plants , cylindrical tanks must be capable of containing this corrosive substance , without reacting with it or degrading.

Conventional steel, when mixed with 10.5% (or more) by weight of chromium, develops the so-called passive film , which is the surface chemically immune to oxygen and other corrosive agents. This film is what differentiates stainless steel from other steels and metals.

Using stainless steel to construct the concentrated acid and alkali containers is, in fact, a safety requirement , to ensure the well-being of the operators and other workers who must constantly approach the huge tanks. This steel guarantees that the chemical substance inside will not crack or destroy them.

On the other hand, the use of stainless steel provides confidence that the quality of the confined product will not be altered . If a common metallic material is used to build the tank, sooner or later the acid or alkali inside will be contaminated with particles released from it by oxidation. Stainless steel is almost inert and keeps the substance it contains pure.

Equipment made of stainless steel.

Make food containers

In the food industry, it is a quality measure to build pipes and equipment with stainless steel , since this material is not reactive with the products. In the plants where milk or any other liquid food is pasteurized and packaged, it is essential to maintain high standards of hygiene, to ensure the safety of the finished product.

If pipes and equipment were made of metals that rust, milk or juices would even turn a faint orange tint from the presence of rust, completely undermining the safety and quality of the food. This level of contamination cannot be allowed, because it would represent great losses for the company.

Stainless steel prevents contamination of grains, doughs, oils, beverages and all other foods that require transformation processes . The use of this material is even indicated in the official standards, so that all plants in the food industry follow a guide that allows them to operate with conscience.

Create components for machinery

Mechanical components of heavy machinery tend to wear out and corrode by the oxidation process, so some of them are usually made of stainless steel. Of course, the use of this steel comes at a higher cost , but the durability and immunity to chemical degradation are worth it .

With good lubrication, the stainless steel components demonstrate consistent work and cooperate with the operation of the machine. This steel has great mechanical advantages over conventional steels, as it would not tend to become brittle with increased oxidation .

Manufacture appliance covers

Sheet stainless steel has a versatile and elegant metallic appearance, which is why it is used in the manufacture of covers for appliances such as microwave ovens, toasters, refrigerators, washers and dryers.

Stainless steel finishes are widely used by customers who like universal designs, which can be combined with a multitude of environments. In addition, thanks to the qualities of this material, such as its resistance to corrosion and its low chemical reactivity , it is very easy to clean and does not usually stain from contact with aggressive substances.

Create utensils

Stainless steel is a useful material for creating utensils such as:

  • Spatulas
  • Buckets
  • Arms for mixer
  • Spoons
  • Forks
  • Knives
  • Pans

These, by not oxidizing, ensure that the food being prepared is not going to be contaminated with rust or other chemical compounds that have been generated by a previous reaction. They are a hygienic option for cooking, baking and gastronomy.

Create tools

Stainless steel is a useful material to complement the designs of some tools. One of the main compositions of these involves percentages of the metals chromium and vanadium in their mechanical parts, as these provide greater hardness and toughness.

Stainless steel can be added to the manual handling part, such as the handle of screwdrivers or the arms of pliers. However, generally, plastics are used for those.

Both stainless steel and plastics are used in tool handles and arms to prevent infectious diseases such as tetanus , due to skin contact with rust.

Create tables for chemical laboratories

If something abounds in chemical, biochemical and pharmaceutical laboratories, it is chemical reagents. These, some more likely to act than others, represent a risk for work surfaces, if they are not made of stainless steel.

The stainless steel laboratory benches perfectly resist accidental spills of acids and alkalis, diluted and in medium concentration. It is easy to clean up these disasters to continue working, either standardizing substances or researching drugs and ways of life.

 

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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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