The Discovery of Stainless Steel

vellurStarred Page By vellur, 30th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Education

This article is all about the discovery of stainless steel. Harry Brearley was responsible for the discovery of stainless steel. He discovered stainless steel when he was researching for an alloy that did not corrode.

Harry Brearley - In search of a steel that does not errode

Stainless Steel was discovered by Harry Brearley. He was born on February 18, 1871 in Sheffield, England. His father was John Brearley and his mother was Jane Senoir. His father was a steel worker.

Harry Brearley was a self-made man. He was not formally educated. He left school at the age of 12. Harry Brearley had knowledge of steel because his father was a steel melter. He gained in depth knowledge by going through many books by himself and by attending night school.

In 1908 he was appointed as a lead researcher in the Brown Firth Laboratories. In the year 1912 he was assigned the task of producing steel that does not erode for rifle barrels. The problem during those days was that when a rifle was fired the heat generated and the gases that escaped, eroded the inner side of the barrel.

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Research for a better alloy

Harry Brearley started on his research work in order to find out the composition of steel that would not erode easily and withstand high temperatures. Brearley experimented with many alloys of steel. He did not have any success and he kept discarding steel samples that did not work in a pile.

After several months Brearley noticed that in the discarded pile of steel there were some samples that had not eroded whereas some had eroded. By experimenting further with the samples that had not eroded he found out that the presence of high levels of chromium was responsible for resistance to erosion. This is because the Chromium present in the steel has a high affinity for oxygen; it combines with oxygen and forms a protective layer on the steel surface.

Stainless Steel came into existence

On 13th August 1913 Harry Brearley created the first stainless steel by mixing 0.24% carbon and 12.8% chromium. Harry Brearley called this the“Rustless Steel”.

Brown Firth Laboratories was at first not interested in the “Rustless Steel” that Harry Brearley had discovered. He then showcased Rustles Steel to Sheffield’s Cutlery Industry and asked them to produce knives. The cutlers were not able to produce sharp knives with Rustles Steel hence they declared it a failure.

Harry Brearley did not give up, he purchased chromium steel and converted it into Rustless Steel. With the Rustless Steel that he had made he asked a cutlery firm “R.F.Mosley & Co” to make Stainless Steel Knives. Harry Brearley worked with Ernest Stuart the manager of “R.F.Mosley & Co. Ernest Stuart tested Harry Brearley’s steel alloy with vinegar and found out that it did not erode. He suggested that the name Stainless Steel would be more marketable than Rustless Steel.

Harry Brearley got a job as a manager in Firth's Stainless Steel company. In 1920 he received the highest metallurgy award. He retired in 1925 at the age of 54.

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Alloy, Discovery, Education, Iron, Metals, Research, Rifle, Rifles, Rust, Stainless Steel, Steel, Vinegar

Meet the author

author avatar vellur
Hi!! My name is Mrs. Nithya Venkat. Writing is my passion, nature my inspiration. I write about topics that interest me.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
30th Jul 2013 (#)

extremely interesting vellur.
Bless you

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
30th Jul 2013 (#)

a quite fascinating account vellur..thank you...

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author avatar Mariah
30th Jul 2013 (#)

Great page Vellur, very well written and presented.

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author avatar Retired
31st Jul 2013 (#)

Useful information, Nithya. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar vellur
31st Jul 2013 (#)

Stella Mitchell thank you.

cnwriter carolina thank you.

Mariah thank you.

Rajan jolly, thank you.

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author avatar Retired
31st Jul 2013 (#)

Well researched - we take stainless for granted these days.

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author avatar vellur
1st Aug 2013 (#)

Clara Myres yes, you are so right. We do take it for granted.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
4th Aug 2013 (#)

Very enjoyable read, I love learning-:0)- and history!...nicely done my friend...

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author avatar vellur
4th Aug 2013 (#)

Thank you Delicia Powers.

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