Nickel’s role in stainless steel
Nickel’s role in stainless steel Nickel was first classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt. There are about 3,000 nickel-containing alloys in everyday use and about 90% of all new nickel sold goes into alloys, twothirds of which goes into stainless steel. Nickel use is increasing by about 4% each year while use of stainless steel containing nickel is growing at about 6%. In fact, stainless steel is the largest single first use of nickel, accounting for over 60% of nickel production in 2009. The addition of chromium to steel decreases its toughness, while the addition of nickel compensates for this decrease. The addition of nickel to stainless steel gives the following benefits: • Stainless steels used for hygienic equipment in the pharmaceutical, food, beverage and industries which can be cleaned with aggressive chemicals while ensuring product purity • Stainless steels with enhanced weldability over a wider range of thicknesses • Stainless steels that can have low magnetic permeability, which are necessary for electronic applications and even medical implants Type 304 stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel, and is often referred to as 18/8. That composition was one of the first to be developed in the history of stainless steel, early in the twentieth century. It has been used for chemical plants and even to clad the iconic Chrysler Building in New York City.