Improved steel with reduced environmental impact

A new nitrogen alloyed tool steel that contributes to a reduced environmental impact and greater production efficiency is the result of a doctoral thesis completed recently at Swerea.

Although researchers have long-studied the frictional properties of steel in an effort to determine why nitrogen alloyed tool steel has superior friction properties, no consensus has been reached. 

Breakthrough in research of frictional properties

Now, however, Irma Heikkilä of Swerea has made a breakthrough and succeeded in coming up with the explanation researchers have been waiting for. Her doctoral thesis demonstrates how frictional properties are dependent on particle size.

“I created a model in which I entered various parameters relative to particle size. I was able to establish a relation between friction and particles size in the material,” explains Irma Heikkilä.

New steel out on the market

The result is part of the doctoral study and the work has resulted in the development of a new steel with unique frictional properties, which is now on the market. The steel is used in tools in industrial processes where friction and wear are a major problem that leads to costly consumption
and negative impact on the environment.

This steel presents new possibilities for reducing losses due to friction. The construction of more efficient engines or valves is a possible application.

Research paves the way for further development

The breakthrough has made it easier to design materials with specific properties. Knowledge of the effect of particle size on friction enables the development of more highly adapted steels and other materials that can result in environmental gains during entire product lifecycles.

The work has been funded by Uddeholm, manufacturer of the new steel.