Cost Effective Use of Stainless Steel in Sugar Industry by Outokumpu (S.E.A.) Pte Ltd.
The battle against corrosion of sugar process equipment was extremely challenging until carbon steel was replaced by 12% chromium (12Cr) ferritic stainless steels (Outokumpu Moda 410L). This alloy prolongs the service life of production equipment and lower required maintenance. The chromium alloying provides superior corrosion resistance and durability compared to carbon steel. Moreover, the 12Cr stainless steel has higher mechanical strength and better abrasion resistance than conventional mild steel which makes it suitable as an engineering material in sugar industry.
Without expensive Nickel alloying, the ferritic stainless steels are not so much more expensive than carbon steels. In total Life Cycle cost, the reoccurring maintenance and replacement costs for carbon steels are considerably higher than for stainless steels. Over time, more investors switch to select 12Cr stainless steel over carbon steel for upstream sugar production equipment, e.g. cane table and cane carriers.
For juice production and downstream applications, where higher corrosion resistance than 12Cr stainless steel is required, users commonly select austenitic stainless steels Type 304 or 316 (Available from Outokumpu as Core 304L and Supra 316L). Beside higher corrosion resistance, such austenitic alloys are easy to shape and weld. However, their mechanical strength is lower than 12Cr stainless steels, and higher alloying content increases the initial invest cost as well.
In harsher environment, an alternative to type 304 and 316 can be duplex stainless steels (e.g. Outokumpu Forta LDX 2101). Duplex stainless steel has dual microstructure of ferrite and austenite, combining the best properties: high strength, high abrasion and corrosion resistance. Owning to these benefits, duplex grades is increasingly considered a cost effective solution from total life cycle cost viewpoint.
There is also an austenitic counterpart Supra 316plus with more cost-effective alloying, including nitrogen, which delivers higher strength than conventional type 316, with similar or somewhat better corrosion resistance.
To conclude, stainless steel is not only one alloy – there are plenty of alloys available where the benefits of a few are presented here. Outokumpu can support you to find the most cost-effective solution to your specific application from our comprehensive product portfolio of stainless steel. Significant cost savings can be achieved by avoiding unnecessary maintenance and longer service life.