ORNL's Chrome-Moly Steel: A World-Class Material

In this 1983 photograph, Vinod Sikka examines modified 9 Cr-1 Motubes after three years of operation at about 590°C in the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Steam Plant. The 9 Cr-1 Mo tubes seen here are those with small transition pieces, easily identified by two adjacent weld seams. The tubes are still in place and performing well at the Kingston plant.

ORNL's Vinod Sikka has won five R&D 100 awards. The first was for his work in 1974­75 at ORNL in developing a steel containing chromium, molybdenum, and other elements. It was developed for the U.S. government's Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project, which was to have been built in Oak Ridge but was canceled in 1983.

The award-winning chrome-moly steel was first manufactured and sold in the United States in 1983. The material was originally tested in boiler tubes at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Steam Plant in nearby Kingston, Tennessee.

It is now manufactured and marketed internationally by companies in France, Germany, Japan, and the United States for a total of over $100 million in sales. Because it doesn't easily corrode or deform at normal operating conditions, the material is used in utility boilers to produce electricity and oil refinery furnaces to make unleaded gasoline. Like Sikka, the steel is a winner, at least in certain applications.

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