Addition of substantial quantities of Ni to high Cr alloys gives rise to, austenitic steel. It has good resistance to many acids (even hot or cold nitric acid). Slight amount of W and Mo are added in such steels to increase its strength at elevated temperatures. This steel contains 16 to 24% Cr, 8 to 22% Ni and less than 0.2% C. Addition of nickel stabilizes austenite, and hence the structure of these steels consists of austenite at room temperature. A steel containing 18% Cr and 8% Ni is very widely used and is commonly referred to as 18/8 stainless steel. These steels do not harden by heat treatment but can be rolled hard. These steels possess a brilliant luster when polished. These are highly resistant to many acids even nitric acids. The heat conductivity of steel is low, about 5% that of copper. Tungsten and molybdenum are added to increase the strength at elevated temperatures, silicon and aluminium to improve the resistance to scaling and selenium and sulphur are added to improve machinability. This steel is easily weldable. After welding, it is susceptible to corrosive attack in the area adjacent to the weld.
It is used for making heat exchangers, conveyors chains, furnaces, spokes, brewery, dairy and chemical industrial components, cutlery parts, surgical and dental instruments, household appliances such as kitchen utensils, sinks and saucepans. These are also used in making components in power stations, especially in nuclear power stations, steam pipes, boiler tubes,
radiator and super heater tubes.