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Assessing the Long-Term Global Sustainability of the Production and Supply for Stainless Steel

Harald Ulrik Sverdrup () and Anna Hulda Olafsdottir
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Harald Ulrik Sverdrup: University of Iceland
Anna Hulda Olafsdottir: University of Iceland

Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, 2019, vol. 4, issue 2, 1-29

Abstract: Abstract The integrated systems dynamics model WORLD6 was used to assess long-term supply of stainless steel to society with consideration of the available extractable amount of raw materials. This was done handling four metals simultaneously (iron, chromium, manganese, nickel). We assessed amounts of stainless steel that can be produced in response to demand and for how long, considering the supply of the alloying metals manganese, chromium and nickel. The extractable amounts of nickel are modest, and this puts a limit on how much stainless steel of different qualities can be produced. The simulations indicate that nickel is the key element for stainless steel production, and the issue of scarcity or not depends on how well the nickel supply and recycling systems are managed. The study shows that there is a significant risk that the stainless steel production will reach its maximum capacity around 2055 and slowly decline after that. The model indicates that stainless steel of the type containing Mn–Cr–Ni will have a production peak in about 2040, and the production will decline after 2045 because of nickel supply limitations. Production rates of metals like cobalt, molybdenum, tantalum or vanadium are too small to be viable substitutes for the missing nickel. These metals are limiting on their own as important ingredients for super-alloys and specialty steels and other technological applications. With increased stainless steel price because of scarcity, we may expect recycling to go up and soften the decline somewhat. At recycling degrees above 80%, the supply of nickel, chromium and manganese will be sufficient for several centuries.

Keywords: WORLD6; Systems dynamics; Iron; Nickel; Manganese; Chromium; Stainless steel (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s41247-019-0056-9

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