It has long been an accepted fact that steel is as good as it’s going to get: the innovators of the last century took care of developing the best processes to create as strong and light a product as possible, using as little energy as possible. But as Patrick Stewart would say, everything is impossible until it isn’t. A Detroit entrepreneur named Gary Cola has created a way to process steel into a lighter, stronger, and greener product with a method he calls Flash Bainite processing. The end product is 7% stronger than traditional steel and has 30% more flex to it, which would create safer and lighter vehicles, laptops, and other steel products. But what’s really got us going about this new process is that it uses 80-90% less energy.
What’s even more impressive is that Cola’s process only takes 10 seconds. Instead of heating the metal for hours or even days as is standard in steel plants, Gary Cola bakes and then quickly cools his super steel for just a few seconds to create a product that is stronger than some titanium alloys. Mr. Cola and partners at Ohio State University are now studying the science behind why his process is able to turn more than a century of science on its head. They published their findings in the latest issue of Materials Science and Technology, explaining that flash heating steel actually changes the microstructure inside the alloy, making it stronger and less brittle. We can’t wait to see what designers can build using this new super steel. The implications for green architecture, art, automotive design, and aviation are certainly something to look forward to.
Image source: Ell R Brown