Steel is a dominant Iron alloy that has a wide variety of advanced industrial applications including civil engineering, aircraft and automotive manufacturing. Because steel plays an essential part in the progression of modern civilization, engineers and material scientists alike are continually seeking innovative ways to develop an even stronger “super steel”.
This goal of creating a highly resistant, strong iron alloy that is light in weight, easy to shape, and affordable has proven difficult to achieve. In the quest to improve upon materials like steel, researchers inevitably uncover new weaknesses as well, which has made the path to a safer, stronger super steel a fascinating worldwide endeavor.
History of Super Steel Development
The history of super steel development has seen international engineers and material scientists try to enrich steel through endless rounds of trial and error. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the first super steel was created when a team of inventors in Soviet Russia added aluminum to steel.
As soon as Soviet researchers discovered that they can enhance steel by adding aluminum to the mix, they found the product’s shortcomings too. While the newly created steel and aluminum alloy was remarkably strong and lightweight, it was also quite brittle. Even though the sheer force that needed to be exerted in order to fracture it had to be powerful, the steel would still break rather than bend.
Luckily, the researchers were quick to realize the cause of the problem. The brittleness was the result of the fusion of aluminum and iron atoms, which occasionally happens during the creation of the aluminum steel alloy. The product of this fusion, a solid crystalline structure known as a B2 steel alloy, contained nuggets and veins which made it strong yet brittle.
This called for further inquiry into solutions that would allow for the new super steel to bend.
Enhancing the Aluminum-Steel Alloy
One of the answers came from a team of material scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea who devised a solution for brittle alloy B2 in the form of a lightweight, flexible, and ultra-strong steel.
Back in 2015, after years of fine-tuning methods of heat-treating and rolling steel in order to control the formation of B2 crystals, the scientists tried to separate these tiny particles from one another, thus allowing the surrounding alloy to insulate them from splintering.
Experimentation with the addition of a small percentage of nickel also revealed that this allowed crystals to form at a significantly higher temperature, which in turn provided the scientists with greater control over B2 formation.
However, even with these advancements the new nickel steel alloy posed other issues.
In an attempt to mitigate these shortcomings, the South Korean team experimented by alloying steel with Titanium. Known as one of the most abundant metals on Earth and best known for its applications in the aerospace industry, Titanium turned out to be a resourceful choice for the team. They discovered that by adding Titanium atoms to the aluminum steel alloy, they were able to fully prevent the formation of crystalline structures at higher temperatures. As a result, Titanium steel alloy would bend rather than break, thus solving their biggest obstacle in the creation of a Super Steel.
The Search for Super Steel Continues
However flawed, the studies at Pohang University have paved the way for other inventors to look for novel ways to create super-strong steel alloys. Quite recently, we witnessed an important breakthrough in the development of ultrastrong steel when a team of researchers at the University of Hong Kong reached a milestone in their Super Steel project. The engineers managed to significantly improve the fracture resistance of their new super steel by utilizing the deformed and partitioned method.
As the field remains dynamic, we’re excited to see ever stronger steel alloys.
While Texas Iron & Metal cannot solve all of the obstacles to creating a super steel, we do have a large inventory of Prime and Less-Than-Prime (LTP) steel. We offer same-day or next-day delivery services free of charge for orders over $400, as well as custom cut-to-order services. Request a quote today and one of our steel experts will be delighted to help you find the perfect type of steel tubing or plates.