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Air Valves in Piping Systems

Air Valves in Piping Systems

Liquid piping systems are prone to colle...

Are Valves from Low-Cost Countries Getting Better?

Are Valves from Low-Cost Countries Getting Better?

The last 25 years have seen standards cr...

Managing the Generation Gap: Much Ado About Nothing?

Managing the Generation Gap: Much Ado About Nothing?

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Industry Headlines

Weir Group Plans to Sell Flow Control Division

Friday, 20 April 2018  |  Chris Guy

The Weir Group’s board of directors will initiate a process to sell the Flow Control division. This process will focus on maximizing value for sha...

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Industry Headlines

Weir Group Plans to Sell Flow Control Division

1 DAY AGO

The Weir Group’s board of directors will initiate a process to sell the Flow Control division. This process will focus on maximizing value for shareholders, with all options to be considered and no fixed timetable. Proceeds will be used to further reduce leverage and to fund future investment in...

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Emerson and BlueFin Form Strategic Partnership

2 DAYS AGO

Emerson and BlueFin have signed a working partnership agreement to deliver the Roxar gauge technology to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) region. The partnership will deliver a combined offering of Emerson's technology coupled with BlueFin's installation services and chemical injection systems.

BlueFin, a...

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OECD Natural Gas Production Up 2.4% in 2017

2 DAYS AGO

An assessment of monthly data shows that in 2017 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) natural gas production grew by 2.4% compared to 2016. This growth was driven by increases in production across all OECD regions, particularly in Asia Oceania (+17.7%), whilst the Americas and...

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Major Trends Changing the Chemical Industry

4 DAYS AGO

“The accelerated globalization of the chemicals market is one of four major trends that we at SAP see shaping the chemical industry through the remainder of 2018 and beyond,” writes Stefan Guertzgen, global senior director for industry solution marketing, chemicals at SAP.

“Amid such ...

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Beige Book: Solid Outlook Despite Tariff Concerns

2 DAYS AGO

Economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in March and early April. Outlooks remained positive, but contacts in various sectors including manufacturing, agriculture and transportation expressed concern about the newly imposed and/or prop...

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IMF Predicting Global Economic Upswing

3 DAYS AGO

World growth strengthened in 2017 to 3.8%, with a notable rebound in global trade. It was driven by an investment recovery in advanced economies, continued strong growth in emerging Asia, a notable upswing in emerging Europe, and signs of recovery in several commodity exporters. Global growth is exp...

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Less Expensive Stainless Steels

materials_q_and_a_graphicQ: High metal prices, especially for nickel and molybdenum, have our procurement people looking at less expensive stainless steels like the 200 series. Are these as good as 304 and 316 stainless steels?

A: Before answering this question, let’s look at the history and differences between the 200 and 300 series stainless steels. The original 200 series stainless steels were first developed in the 1930s by using manganese to replace some of the nickel in the 300 series austenitic stainless steels. Certain elements used in stainless steels either promote the formation of the austenitic or ferritic atomic structure, and the austenitic stainless steels are the more corrosion resistant. The austenitic-forming elements are nickel, manganese, nitrogen, copper and carbon. The primary ferrite-forming element is chromium.

Since a stainless steel needs 10-12% minimum chromium to be considered “stainless,” it then takes about 8-10% nickel to offset the ferritic-forming tendency of chromium to make a stainless-steel austenitic more corrosion resistant. Historically, manganese has always been a lower cost element than nickel. So whenever there is a scarcity of nickel (as there was in the 1970s) or when nickel prices are high, such as they are now, people look to the 200 series stainless steels as lower cost alternatives.

But before deciding to use a 200 series stainless steel, there are issues to be considered. To further complicate the matter, there has been an increase in newer chrome-manganese grades developed and produced in Southeast Asia and China. The 200 series now represent 34% of China’s production of stainless steels.

Facts About the 200 Series

There are two categories of the 200 series stainless steels—those that only replace some of the nickel with manganese, such as the original 201 or 202 grades, and those that replace most of the nickel, such as the newer grades now being seen in Asia. These newer low-nickel grades also tend to have lower chromium, which further decreases their corrosion resistance.

To date there are no international standards for the use of these newer grades. To add additional confusion, users of stainless equipment, such as valves, know that magnetism—or more correctly, the lack of magnetism—is a way of verifying they have received the superior 300 series stainless steels. Since 200 series grades are non-magnetic, this could cause a buyer to mistakenly believe they have the correct and more corrosion-resistant 300 series stainless steel. In fact, there have been a few instances of deliberate mislabeling of 200 series grades as being 304 stainless. Some scrap dealers also still rely on magnetism to sort the 300 series grades from the magnetic and less corrosion-resistant 400 series stainless steels. Thus, the proliferation of the non-magnetic 200 series grades could lead to some serious scrap contamination issues if recyclers are not careful.

The first indication as to whether these grades are equivalent to 304 and 316 is they receive little attention until nickel either becomes scarce or when nickel prices are high. The primary reason they do not see greater use is simply because they are not as corrosion resistant as 304 and 316 stainless steels. However, the 200 series grades do have several beneficial uses, including cookware, railcars, lighting columns, washing machines and most mildly corrosive applications.

Problems with Corrosion

While the 200 series alloys do have good atmospheric corrosion resistance, they do not have good resistance to most corrosive chemicals. In addition, because most of the 200 series alloys tend to have a higher carbon content to help promote the austenitic structure, it makes them more susceptible to intergranular corrosion. Other characteristics that make the 200 series less attractive include their tendency to be more work hardenable and their potential to have slightly inferior surface finish.

So if you really need to lower your cost, you need to be very careful in the application of these 200 series stainless steels. A better choice would be to look at some of the duplex stainless steels such as S31803. The duplexes have about half the nickel of the 300 series so at the higher nickel prices they may be less expensive than the 300 series while providing comparable corrosion resistance. There are also some new lean (lower nickel) duplex grades on the market that may be even more cost effective. In any case, be sure to deal with reputable and knowledgeable suppliers who can assist you with the proper material selection.


Thomas Spence is director of materials engineering of Flowserve Corporation (www.flowserve.com). Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Don Bush, materials engineer, Emerson Process Management-Fisher Division (www.emersonprocess.com).

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