A new type of stainless steel alloy developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could allow for significantly increased operating temperatures and corresponding increases in efficiency in future energy production systems.

The new alloys offer superior oxidation resistance compared to conventional stainless steels, without significant increased cost or decreased creep resistance (sagging at high temperature). What sets this proprietary material apart from other stainless steels is its ability to form protective aluminum oxide scales instead of chromium oxide scales.

The combination of creep and oxidation resistance offered by these alloys previously was available only with nickel-base alloys, which are about five times more costly than the new stainless steels. This material also has potential applications in high-temperature (up to 800 degrees Celsius) chemical and process industry applications.