World steelmakers dive in while US mills test the waters

Jul 01, 2008 | 06:09 AM |

While recognizing that fresh water is increasingly becoming a scarce commodity, resulting in incredible growth in demand for desalination and other water-reuse technologies, not many U.S.-based stainless and stainless pipe and tube companies appear to be embracing the market.

"I'm not sure many domestic producers recognize the opportunity it presents," Dan Janikowski, energy sales manager at Plymouth Tube Co., said. "It is a big market, but mainly a global market. It isn't nearly as strong in the United States as elsewhere in the world. Maybe once the supply of usable water declines further (in the United States) and water prices start to go up, more people will pay attention to this market."

It is hard to quantify just how much the market could boost demand for stainless, titanium, copper-based alloys and other corrosion-resistant materials globally, especially for plants utilizing the reverse-osmosis desalination process that accounts for about 80 percent of new plant builds, Janikowski said. He could say only that reverse-osmosis plants, which use a membrane-based technology with piping made from super duplex stainless steels as well as fiber-reinforced plastics, use less stainless per gallon of water processed than thermal desalination (distillation) plants.....

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