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Sep 26, 2012 | 05:43 PM

Outokumpu’s in hot water . . . and couldn’t be happier about it

Tags  Outokumpu Oyj, China, Dr. Chang-Ching Sun, 2304 stainless steel sheet, stainless steel tanks, Phinx, Jo Isenberg-O'Loughlin

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They haven’t broken out the glögli just yet but Espoo, Finland-based Outokumpu Oyj is licking its lips over the prospects of capturing a slice of the domestic water heater market in China. Predictably, the opportunity didn’t come easy or overnight.

In early September after what it described as “long business development efforts,” the global stainless steel producer issued a statement claiming it had introduced duplex stainless steel to domestic water heaters in China, producing the first ever duplex water heater tank in cooperation with Phinx, a local fabricator.

“Thanks to close cooperation with a local Chinese fabricator and a number of Outokumpu’s own units and our R&D expertise, we have been able to produce a full-size prototype tank based on the design of the potential buyer,” Dr. Chang-Ching Sun said in a statement released from Outokumpu’s sales office in China. There is still a great deal of work to be done before large-scale commercial sales but it is fair to say that the seed for duplex stainless steel domestic water heater tanks in China has been sown.” he added.

The prototype tank was fabricated from Outokumpu’s thin duplex grade 2304 stainless steel sheet, the high strength of which is said to deliver greater corrosion resistance and considerable material savings. Outokumpu pointed out, however, that despite the benefits ascribed to stainless steel water heaters, including maximized service life, these types of units are still a minority in the global domestic water heater market.

Even so, water heaters with storage tanks are the most popular method to provide hot water for households worldwide, the Finnish stainless steelmaker, which counts plants in Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, said. “If the storage tanks are made from stainless, domestic water heaters offer vast market potential for stainless in China,” Outokumpu noted.