Stainless steel for storage tanks of all sizes, shapes and applications is made by a handful of producers in the United States. ATI Allegheny Ludlum Corp., North American Stainless Inc. and Outokumpu Oyj all make stainless plate and coil that can be fabricated into tanks.
Mike Stateczny, vice president and general manager of Outokumpus stainless plate mill in New Castle, Ind., said that "a big segment of what we make goes into process industries. Were a significant producer of stainless plate, and our material goes into a wide range of applications. We are a piece plate operation. We dont make stainless coil in New Castle. "We can make plate from 3⁄16 to 6 inches thick. We are very niche oriented."
Outokumpus mill in New Castle employs about 150 people. The mill started as an iron foundry around the turn of the 20th Century, and Outokumpu, through its Swedish operations, has been involved with the New Castle mill since 1972. Last year, the Finnish stainless producer completed a $60-million capital expansion program at the New Castle mill.
Stateczny said that the wide range of stainless grades makes the metal an ideal material for fabricating storage tanks. "Because it is such a strong material, you can make a tank out of stainless that is much thinner than you can make one out of carbon steel," he said. "Duplex stainless has incredible strength, and fabricators take advantage of that."
Stateczny noted that stainless steel also is corrosion-resistant and heat-resistant. "The use of stainless depends upon the challenge you face as a fabricator," he said. "Is the material being stored caustic? Is it acidic? Are there chlorides involved? Typically, the decision to use stainless revolves around somebody with a corrosion problem." Increasingly, fabricators are making stainless tanks for storage applications in coastal areas where exterior pitting from salt is a growing corrosion issue.
Stateczny said that hygiene issues also are always a good reason to buy stainless tanks.