March 27, 2010 1:08 PM Subscribe
Why does stainless steel have such strange properties?
posted by Skeptic to science & nature (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Its corrosion resistance has long been explained by the formation of a thin protective layer of chromium oxide, but it isn't the only weird feature of stainless steel. There's its thermal conductivity, which is surprisingly low for a metal alloy (16 W/mK, as opposed to 80 for iron, 94 for chromium or 91 for nickel), and also that curious "odor-eating" ability which is exploited in "stainless steel soap
", and which seems quite real to me, but for which I can't find any convincing explanation online.
Does familiarity breed contempt? I have the feeling that if it wasn't such an ubiquitous material, its strange properties would get more scientific interest...