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How Stainless Steel Offers Environmental Sustainability

How Stainless Steel Offers Environmental Sustainability

More and more consumers, builders and industry professionals are putting a high premium on environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. Stainless steel can play an important role in the sustainability of your structures and systems.

Highly Recyclable

Stainless steel is one of the planet’s most easily recycled materials. The 300 series stainless steel materials may have, on average, around 75 to 80% recycled content.

The end of life (EOL) recapture rate of stainless steel is one of the highest of all construction materials. Many materials are either burned or sent to a landfill after use. This takes up valuable space, adds pollution and requires the use of new materials. Stainless steel can be easily recycled after use, reducing the need for new materials to be mined and keeping materials out of the waste stream.

Highly Durable

Stainless steel can last years longer than other materials. 410 stainless steel, which is a commonly used general purpose stainless steel, is desirable because of its high resistance to corrosion. This characteristic doesn’t just save you money over time; it also significantly increases the time that is needed before replacement.

A Strong Role in Resource Conservation

Because of its strength and malleability, stainless steel plays a very important role in alternative energy projects that include wave generation, solar, geothermal and biomass power production. Stainless steel is integral to the construction of items like air scrubbers that reduce conventional power plants’ release of dangerous pollutants into the environment.

Stainless steel is an ideal material for containers transporting potable water. This material reduces loss through evaporation, making resources go farther.

Steel is also an ideal material for both public and private waste water treatment facilities. These facilities reduce the chances of water pollution and keep water resources safe.

When your customers want to know what you are doing to help protect our environment and our future, you can answer with confidence that your use of high quality stainless steel can help. Want to learn more? Our expert staff has years of experience and knowledge about stainless steel. If you are looking for the ideal material for your next industrial project, get in touch. We will be happy to guide you to the right stainless steel grade and to explain the benefits of your choice.

Great Plains Stainless eQuote online bidding system

Great Plains Stainless eQuote

online bidding now available

Online price and availability for thousands of stock items in the USA, Chile, China, India, and around the world available anytime at Great Plains Stainless eQuote.

An easy search system using popup menus allows users to see inventories in stainless steels and titanium, in pipe, fittings, flanges, plate, bar, wire, and weld wire.

Alloys currently available: 304L, 304H, 309, 310, 316L, 317L, 321H, 347H, 410, 446, 904L, S31803, S32750, and Titanium gr 2.

Great Plains Stainless President, Joe Gibbons, says, “In the coming months a number of innovations are planned that are revolutionary.”  Mr. Gibbons went on to say,  “We asked a dozen customers to help us do pre-beta testing of the system, and we are very pleasantly surprised by how many orders that process generated”.

A beta version of Great Plains Stainless eQuote is now available for customers outside of North America.  Contact your GPS sales representative or go to www.gpss.com/equote to create an account.

Characteristics of 904L stainless steel

904L stainless steel is a highly durable and highly versatile material. It’s valued for its high resistance to corrosion and heat as well as its level of weldability. It’s even the choice for stainless steel Rolex watches; the high end watchmaker made the switch from 304L to 904L when they discovered that the latter would offer a better level of resistance to corrosion and pitting and make even their watches a lifelong purchase even for active wearers.

What are 904L’s best qualities?

This type of stainless steel has a low carbon content. It is high in copper to add resistance to strong acids such as sulphuric acid. The presence of high amounts of nickel makes it resistant to stress corrosion cracking. It is also highly resistant to crevice corrosion and stress corrosion cracking that can plague other types of steel. It can be used in a range of challenging environments that include warm seawater and chloride exposure. It’s a good material for both mild and aggressive conditions. 

This type of stainless steel is highly resistant to heat up to 400 degrees Celcius. It is heat treatable at temperatures that range from 1090 to 1175 Celcius when followed by rapid cooling. This sort of thermal treatment is a good choice for hardening 904L steel. 

This type of steel is non-magnetic because of its make-up. It offers high levels of weldability, formability and toughness in a range of conditions.

904L steel can be welded using all conventional methods without a need for pre-heat and post-weld heat treatments. 

What is 904L used for?

As mentioned earlier, 904L steel is the stainless steel used in the construction of Rolex watches. In industrial settings, it is valued for its high purity and its low sulfur content. A few of the places 904L is used includes:

  • Seawater cooling devices.
  • Wiring in electrostatic filtration devices.
  • Oil refinery components.
  • Gas scrubbing plant parts.
  • Machinery for pulp and paper processing.
  • Parts in machines used in sulfuric, acetic and phosphoric acid processing plants. 

At Great Plains Stainless, we carry a wide range of stainless steel tubes, pipes, fittings and flanges for all of your consumer and industrial needs. Get in touch today to learn more about what we have available and the best materials for your next project.

What are ASTM standards?

Without consistent standards, you can never be sure that the duplex stainless steel you bought from one manufacturer is the same as what you buy from a new one for another project. To ensure safety and consistency, ASTM International has established voluntary standards that are used throughout the world.

About the ASTM

ASTM was first founded in 1898 as the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials. The group’s original purpose was to address railroad safety. Rails would often break due to a lack of standardized performance; the scientists and engineers created minimum standards for fabricating rails. The group has gone through some name changes during its life; it became the American Society for Testing and Materials before finally being renamed ASTM International in 2001. They have offices in Washington, D.C, Belgium, China, Canada and Mexico.

Membership in the ASTM is open to anyone with an interest in its activities. There are over 30,000 members in the organization from 140 countries. They include material users, producers and consumers. 

Complying to ASTM Standards

At this time, there are over 13,000 ASTM Standards. Some set standards for materials such as carbon steel, zinc coatings and other materials. Others, like F 963 set standards for toy safety.

While ASTM Standards are voluntary, they have been adopted into a number of federal, state and municipal regulations in the US. Under the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, the federal government is required to use privately developed consensus standards wherever they can. Other governments throughout the world have referenced ASTM standards in their regulations.

Are There Other Similar Authorities?

A number of other organizations set standards for safety and consistency, as well. ISO (the International Organizations for Standardization) was formed in 1947 and promotes standards for industrial and commercial applications. You will frequently see ISO grades listed for steel. SAE International maintains an alloy numbering system that includes the SAE steel grades system. In the past, steel grades were also standardized by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) which turned over the maintenance of their grading system to SAE back in 1995. While many standards are international, there are also a number that are specific to one country, such as France’s AFNOR.

Materials from Great Plains Stainless all meet ASTM standards. This helps you ensure that the products that you create are compliant and safe. Have a question about a material, such as duplex stainless steel? Get in touch and our skilled staff can help.

Characteristics of Duplex Stainless Steel

When choosing steel for your fabrication needs, you need to ensure that the material you choose is right. Each stainless steel alloy has different properties that affect malleability, corrosion, strength and other characteristics.

What is duplex stainless steel?

Duplex stainless steels are ferritic-austenitic steels that combine the benefits of both. They contain high levels of chromium and nitrogen, which makes them highly resistant to both uniform and localized corrosion, as well as crevice and pitting corrosion. They have both good weldability and high strength, as well as high resistance to the cracking that can result from stress corrosion. They have low thermal expansion, making them a good material for applications that include extreme temperature changes. They can resist abrasion and erosion. 

At the microstructure level, duplex steel balances equal amounts of austenite and ferrite in solution-annealed condition. The higher the temperature during annealing, the higher the ferrite content will be. The chemical composition of any steel grade will vary slightly between national standards. However, the duplex steel will fully meet any required standard that is specified on an order.

What is duplex stainless steel used for?

The characteristics of duplex stainless steel make it a good material for a number of industrial and infrastructure applications, including:

  • desalinization plants, where fresh water is extracted from salt water.
  • bridges.
  • water heaters for both homes and businesses.
  • rotors, impellers and shafts for motors.
  • cargo tanks and pipe systems to handle chemicals that might prove corrosive to other metals.
  • flue-gas cleaning.
  • seawater systems, such as seawater cooling systems.
  • blast walls and firewalls on offshore platforms, such as drilling platforms.
  • reinforcement bars that strengthen concrete structures.
  • components for structural design needs.
  • pulp and paper industry equipment. Duplex steel stands up well to both corrosive chemicals and heat, making it perfect for these applications.

At Great Plains Stainless, we take great pride in offering a wide range of stainless steel grades to conform with your needs, no matter what the application. We have been dealing with specialty alloys since 1983. With over 3,000 line items in stock, we can get you the items you need quickly. Locations in Tulsa, OK; Santiago, Chile; Shanghai, China and Nelson, New Zealand mean that we can offer you same-day shipping to over 50 countries as well as convenient freight options. Get in touch today to discuss your stainless steel needs and what we can do for you.

Understanding the Steel Naming and Numbering System

The decision about materials for fabrication don’t stop at deciding on stainless steel. Stainless comes in a number of types, each with unique properties. Choosing the right steel number helps you ensure that the products you create have the composition and qualities that you need to make your operations a success.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the standards organization SAE International and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) began working to standardize a numbering system for stainless steel. Their work overlapped a great deal. As a result, you will see older plans refer to AISI/SAE steel grades. In 1995, the AISI turned over the future maintenance of the numbering systems to the SAW. This is because the AISI was not the author of the specifications.

You will see steel quotes and certifications today that make reference to both AISI and SEA. Often, these are not precisely differentiated. For instance, you will see refernces to 317l stainless steel, AISI 317 or SAE 317. In most cases, these three can be treated as the same. However, if there are very specific needs, the standard chosen should be followed.

The AISI system also used a letter prefix that would say which steel making process was used. For instance, the letter E meant electric arc furnace steel; the letter C before the number meant that the steel was made in an open-heart furnace. When the letter L was used, that mean that lead had also been added.

In carbon and alloy steel, there is a four digit number. The first digit indicates the main alloying element. The second refers to the secondary allow. The last two digits say how much carbon is in the mix. For instance, if you see a reference to 1050 steel, it is carbon steel with .50 wt% carbon. An H suffix after any designation shows that hardenability is a major requirement. Hardness values are defined using a Jominy test.

Stainless steel has a three digit designation. The 200 series includes austenitic chromium-nickel-manganese allows. These are general purpose stainless steel.

The 300 series has a number of different purposes depending on additives. Type 302 offers high corrosion resistance, plus high strength. Type 304L differs from type 304 due to a lower carbon content to make it more weldable. Type 317 has higher levels of nickel and chromium; the L type has lower carbon.

Picking the right type starts with considering the application. Know what qualities you need during fabrication and operation. With this knowledge, you can choose the steel type that will ensure that you get the results that you want.

Great Plains Stainless Chile Doubles it’s Santiago Warehouse

Titanium Pipe, flanges, bar, and weld wire
Duplex Pipe, forged and butt weld fittings, bar, plate, and weld wire
Super Duplex Pipe and bar
310 Pipe and weld wire
304L Pipe, Plate, and weld wire
Now have more room in our expanded Santiago warehouse
Great Plains Stainless Santiago has the largest inventory of Titanium and Specialty Stainless products in South America

Picking the Right Materials for Desalination

Desalination is an important emerging process to bring fresh water to more and more parts of the world. As new processes emerge, we get the opportunity to explore newer and less corrosion-prone materials, meaning that desalination units last longer and work better.

The earliest desalination involved multi-stage flash, in which water is evaporated and then condensed in a series of flash chambers. Historically, these desalination tanks were made with shell materials that included mild steel or mild steel with a linking of copper-nickel, clad steel or stainless steel. Newer construction often includes solid duplex stainless steel instead.

Because of the risk of scaling with multi-stage flash, newer distillation processes have been created. In the new process, low temperature multi-effect distillation (LT-MED), distillation occurs under vacuum using lower temperatures, typically between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius. The lower temperatures involved means that less energy is used; however, this is a process that takes more time. The large surface areas needed can also mean higher fabrication costs. Over time, these distillation units have gone from being made with mild steel to being made with stainless steel shells with either titanium or copper-nickel tubes.

In the third most common desalination process, reverse osmosis is used. This process was first investigated in lab settings in the 1950s and came into commercial use in the 1970s. By the beginning of the 21st century, over 15,000 reverse osmosis plants were in operation. This filtering process is based on the principle of osmotic pressure; however, instead of osmosis causing particles to become fully dispersed, high pressure causes the opposite to happen. Selective membranes allow some materials through while keeping others behind. Water is pushed through the membranes of a filter while salt is prevented from moving through with it. Because of the high pressure put on piping, stronger materials are called for. Duplex steel, superduplex or alloys like 904L are used. 

As more areas deal with pressures such as drought and growing populations, more desalination processes will be needed. By picking the materials that are ideal to fabricate desalination units that are able to stand up to the rigors of processes such as sea water reverse osmosis, you can create items that are resistant to pitting, corrosion and other kinds of wear. There are more materials than ever that can help you balance effectiveness and durability with economy. 

Great Plains Stainless Steel has a wide range of options available, including strong and corrosion-resistant duplex stainless steel. Our highly knowledgeable staff can work with you to find the options that fit your needs the best. Get in touch today to discuss the right materials for your next project.

Avoiding Corrosion in Offshore Applications

Extreme operating environments, paired with the presence of highly corrosive elements mean that corrosion is a major concern in offshore operations. Carbon dioxide, brine, hydrogen sulphide and a range of hazardous chemicals, paired with extreme temperatures and barometric pressures make offshore one of the most formidable environments on earth. Additionally, increasing demand from both consumers and businesses, paired with complex processes that must comply with tough regulations, make this area even more challenging.

Choosing the wrong materials can add to your struggles, either through unscheduled maintenance and downtime, lost production or even catastrophic failure that results in economic loss, environmental damage or even loss of human life. The cost of corrosion, both direct and overlooked indirect costs, can be enormous.

Types of Corrosion

Engineers are dedicated to finding the materials that are best able to stand up against the rigors of the offshore environment. They need to deal with corrosion issues that include:

  • Galvanic corrosion, which can result when two different materials make contact in a corrosive conducting environment. This can cause the least resistant of the two materials to degrade rapidly.
  • Pitting corrosion, which is characterized by deep and narrow holes. These holes leave the surface apparently intact while they dig deeply into the material. It can take just a few days for a component to become perforated. Stainless steel is especially vulnerable to this sort of corrosion.
  • Uniform corrosion, which causes a uniform thinning of the metal over time.
  • Crevice corrosion, a type of electromechanical oxidation. This happens when a corrosive solution, such as chlorine ions, are trapped in corners, beneath shields or up inside pockets. This sort of corrosion is considered far more dangerous than uniform corrosion because it acts so quickly.

A number of items that include fittings, manifolds, flanged products and valves are vulnerable to corrosion and can lead to equipment becoming expensively compromised. While corrosion resistant materials, such as duplex stainless steel, can be more expensive, they will cost companies less in the end through long-term, problem-free operation. For instance, while a business will spend far less at first using 316 stainless steel fittings and tubing, these materials will cost more over time once maintenance and labor costs have been factored in. One study found that corrosion resistant parts, while they had a higher upfront cost, wound up being 40% less expensive over a 10 year period.

We are dedicated to ensuring that our customers get the best possible value out of the materials that we sell. If you are having equipment made for challenging offshore applications, we want you to get the items that will work better and last longer in this rigorous environment. Get in touch with us today to discuss the best steel for your equipment.