British metallurgist Harry Brearley discovered stainless steel in 1913. He was experimenting with steel alloys to find a perfect alloy for making gun barrels. After some months he noticed that most of samples under test had rusted and one sample had not. The one which did not rust had 14 percent chromium. This was the discovery of stainless steel.
Ordinary steel rusts because it reacts easily with oxygen while other metals such as aluminium, chromium and nickel stop oxygen reacting with the metal beneath. Brearley’s steel having chromium, it formed such a film that could protect the metal from further attack.
Different types of stainless steels are now manufactured. One of the commonest alloys containing 18 percent chromium is used for kitchen sinks. Steel containing 13 percent chromium are used for kitchen knives. A more corrosion-resistant alloy is made by adding a small amount of the metal molybdenum and such type of steels are used as cladding in buildings.
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