First identified in the 1700s, nickel was first known as ‘kupfernickel‘ because it was found in a rock that looked like copper ore. Miners once thought that nothing of nickel, thinking that this element makes it difficult for them to extract copper from rocks. Little did they know that nickel would soon become one of the most essential industrial metals in the world.
Nickel is what makes stainless steel highly corrosion resistant in the form of the 300 series (e.g. 302, 303, 304) and many PH grade (e.g. 17-4) stainless alloys. Some of the 400 series stainless steels are high chromium carbon steels that are not as fully corrosion resistant in spite of their inclusion in the category of stainless steels. The alloys 416 and 440C show slight corrosion (rust spotting) when left in water for a period of time or when water dries out on them.
There are mainly two reason, Why Nickel is important to the stainless steel industry?
1. Addition of chromium decreases toughness of steel, Nickel compensates the decrease in toughness.
2. Chromium also induces ferromagnetism in steel which is not desired in some of the applications, Nickel also helps in countering this problem.
In a nutshell, Chromium is what makes stainless steel stainless. Nickel enhances corrosion resistance at high temperatures.
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