If there is one material in this world that has a presence in almost every industry, it has to be none other than steel. Steel is the backbone of any product or industry and we cannot imagine industrialization without the use of steel in it. Steel is basically made up of iron with small amounts of carbon added to it. The steel in its pure form rusts easily when it is exposed to oxygen present in the atmosphere.
For this very reason, the steel has to be made stainless ie. protective or redundant to rust. In order to achieve this, steel is generally mixed with chromium and small amounts of nickel to make it stainless. The property of chromium to make the steel stainless lies in the fact that it is highly durable and forms an anti-corrosion layer over steel. This helps the steel to not come directly in contact with moisture present in the air and hence it is protected from rust. Chromium is derived from chromite.
At room temperature, it is generally found in a solid state. A minimum of 13 percent chromium is added to steel to make it stainless. Apart from this it also gives a shining coat to the steel. Due to this very property chromium is often used for aesthetic purposes in the automotive industry as well as other industries. Another important property of chromium is that it has the ability to provide every color from yellow to black when mixed with different materials. Due to this very fact, it is widely used in the paint industry also.
Steel is the most highly recycled material in the world due to its heavy demand in construction railways, roads, buildings, appliances and other infrastructures. It is also used as a reinforcing material in buildings and structures as it provides strength to them. We cannot imagine our roof and floors without the use of steel in them.
Stainless steel, due to its durability and strength is also widely used in the automotive industry. As a matter of fact, even the smallest nuts and bolts are not possible to be used if steel in other forms is not present. Often the roll bars and metallic body used in cars and trucks consists of reinforced stainless steel only.
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The widely used process for steelmaking is known as BOS or basic oxygen steelmaking. The process involves blowing oxygen in large furnaces which contain iron ore or recycled steel remains. This makes the iron ore react with oxygen and steel is produced. Other forms of steel include carbon steels, tools steels, and alloy steels. All these forms of steels use a different form of materials fused together with iron in order to have a different kind of durability and strength. For example tool steel need the material to extremely solid and hard. For this very reason, it is often mixed with tungsten and molybdenum. Alloys often widely used in the tire industry, contain manganese, nickel, chromium, and silicon. Carbon steel is generally of low medium and high category on the basis of their use.
Different steels have different types of properties. Their properties depend upon their density, elasticity, melting point, thermal conductivity, strength, and hardness. The properties can always be changed to suit the demand of the particular industry and have always evolved as the time has changed with the ever increasing demand for steel.
The very fact steel can be recycled almost any no of times makes it one the best materials to be suited for a large chunk of production industry and also construction industry. Who knows in future we may even find a better substitute to even stainless steel.