Nickel: A Vital Component of Stainless Steel Manufacturing

Nickel: A Vital Component of Stainless Steel Manufacturing

Discovered sometime in the 1700s, nickel was initially referred to as ‘’kupfernickel’’ because of its presence in rocks that resembled copper ore.

Back then, miners thought nickel to be an insignificant element that only complicates the process of extracting copper. They had little idea that nickel would go on to become a key industrial metal the world over. Mined in 23 nations, the largest producer of nickel ore is Russia.

Where is nickel used?

Alloys containing nickel find widespread applications in harsh environments, such as oil refineries, chemical plants, power generation sector, jet engines and offshore equipments. Cookware and medical supplies also employ nickel alloys. In some countries, such as the United States, coins contain nickel alloys. Other application areas of nickel include rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles and power equipments.

Role of nickel in the stainless steel industry:

The biggest portion of primary nickel resources around the world goes for stainless steel manufacturing. The ‘’stainless’’ property of stainless steel is primarily because of the presence of chromium, but nickel is an equally important component of stainless steel. Nickel is responsible for making the metal corrosion-resistant and gives it the ability to tolerate extreme temperatures. Nickel minimizes the speed at which corrosion spreads in steel and also enhances its resistance towards reducing acids. As a matter of fact, more than half of the stainless steel tonnage manufactured yearly has nickel.

According to information provided by The Nickel Institute, the main objective of incorporating nickel is to ensure steel remains stable at room temperatures and below. This imparts toughness and ductility to stainless steel. 8 percent nickel and 18 percent chromium – this is the most general composition of stainless steel. Steel of this category exhibits good stretch forming properties. The stability of steel increases further if the proportion of nickel is slightly higher.

 Adding chromium to steel can reduce the toughness of steel. However, nickel compensates that drop. Further, chromium might stimulate ferromagnetism in steel, which is undesirable in several applications. Nickel can eliminate these issues.

How the high temperature tolerance of nickel benefits steel:

  • Stainless steel containing nickel isn’t vulnerable to embrittlement owing to grain growth at high temperatures. That’s why they are used for the most challenging high-temperature applications, such as gas turbines.
  • It boosts the weldability of steel and lends it strong bend and impact features.
  • Steel containing nickel is less likely to develop deleterious phases when subjected to high temperatures.

Nickel stainless steel is eco-friendly:

Stainless steel manufactured using nickel is fully recyclable, minimizing environmental damage by lessening the dependency on raw materials. Utilizing scrap stainless steel also brings down the energy requirement in production by around 33 percent.

All in all, nickel stainless steel is a highly useful l industrial solution. To know more about Indian steel industry, follow MSP Steel. We are one of the leading steel manufacturers in India, providing high-grade products for the rapidly growing construction industry of our country.


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