A New “Super Steel” That’s Both Strong and Flexible

A Chinese-led research team says it has developed a new type of steel that is extremely strong but stretchable and could potentially overcome a difficult challenge in steelmaking.

According to the team, a piece of steel the size of a fingernail can withstand the weight of a 2-ton car without breaking, and the hard metal can stretch by 18 to 25 percent.

They said the material could be used in the automotive, aerospace, and engineering sectors, where it could be molded into complex shapes and absorb a lot of energy on impact.

A team from Northeast University of Shenyang, Shenyang National Materials Science Laboratory, East China’s Jiangyin Xingcheng Steel Plant, and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Iron Research published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Science. on friday 
Creating a very strong steel that can also be stretched has been a major challenge for researchers because strength and durability are usually mutually exclusive. But there is a demand in the industry for such material, which is used in light and safe traffic, construction, and infrastructure.

For the study, the researchers came up with a new hierarchical nanostructure design that aimed to produce steel with both properties.
To create it, a molten billet was forged at 650 to 800 degrees Celsius (1,200 to 1470 °F) and allowed to cool in the air to form a distinct structure.They then used liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature of minus 196 degrees Celsius, to further cool it before heating it to 300 degrees Celsius to improve its stability.

Lead author Li Yunjie, a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University’s State Key Laboratory of Rolling and Automation, said it’s a much simpler process than conventional high-strength steels that are rolled into thin plates or sheets.
He said it produced 2 gigapascals of steel, which was “almost the highest tensile strength of steels.”

In addition, Li said that the production method can reduce the production cost of a ton of steel by about 510 yuan ($75) and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 100 kilograms per ton of carbon equivalent. [It] will promote enormous economic benefits and promote green development,” he said.

According to Li, the future of steel production is promising in terms of tonnage.”The processes proposed by our research, especially forging methods, have long been widely used in many companies and production environments to manufacture parts such as axles, ship shafts, etc.
“Forging-based ton-scale large-scale ship shafts already exist,” he said. “Our process is compatible with this preparation; only some process parameters have been adjusted.”

Source: Scmp

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