Market Opportunities for Austenitic Stainless Steels in SO2 Scrubbers
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Recent U.S. federal legislation has created new opportunities for SO2 scrubbers because all coals, even low-sulfur western coals, will probably require scrubbing to remove SO2 from gaseous combustion products. Scrubbing, the chemical absorption of SO2 by vigorous contact with a slurry—usually lime or limestone—creates an aggressive acid-chloride solution. This presents a promising market for pitting-resistant austenitic stainless steels, but there is active competition from rubber and fiberglass-lined carbon steel. Since the latter are favored on a first-cost basis, stainless steels must be justified on a cost/performance or life-cost basis. Nickel-containing austenitic alloys are favored because of superior field fabricability. Ferritic stainless steels have little utility in this application because of limitations in weldability and resulting poor corrosion resistance.
Inco corrosion test spools indicate that molybdenum-containing austenitic alloys are needed. The leanest alloys for this application are 316L and 317L. Low-carbon grades of stainless steel are specified to minimize corrosion in the vicinity of welds. More highly alloyed materials may be required in critical areas.
At present, 16,000 MW of scrubber capacity is operational and 17,000 MW is under construction. Another 29,000 MW is planned, bringing the total to 62,000 MW. Some 160,000 MW of scrubber capacity is expected to be placed in service over the next 10 years. This could translate into a total potential market of 80,000 tons of alloy plate for new power industry construction in the next decade. Retrofitting of existing power plants plus scrubbers for other applications such as inert gas generators for oil tankers, smelters, municipal incinerators, coke ovens, the pulp and paper industry, sulfuric acid plants, and fluoride control in phosphoric acid plants will add to this large market.
KeywordsFerritic Stainless Steel Crevice Corrosion Localize Attack Waste Heat Recovery System Type 316L Stainless Steel
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