A vital ingredient in stainless steel and superalloys, chromium is considered by the United States Geological Survey as “one of the nation’s most important strategic and critical materials.”
“Because there is no viable substitute for chromium in the production of stainless steel and because the United States has small chromium resources, there has been concern about domestic supply during every national military emergency since World War I,” the USGS explains.
Rich chromite deposits on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula were able to ease some of these concerns by providing a domestic supply of chromite, the only mineral of chromium metal, to help fill America’s increased demand for chromium during both World Wars. Alaska is second only to Montana when it comes to the best states to explore for future domestic needs of this important strategic and critical mineral.
No stainless substitute
Best known for being the primary ingredient of the smooth, mirrorlike plating on automobiles, chromium is a highly prized alloy due to the hardness and corrosion resistance it lends to other metals. By far the largest use of chromium is in stainless steels, which typically contain 10.5 to 32 percent of this critical alloying metal.
This strategic metal also lends its hardness and corrosion-resistant properties to superalloys, specialty metals that can maintain their integrity in extreme conditions. “Chromium in superalloys (high-performance alloys) permits jet engines to operate in a high-temperature, high-stress, chemically oxidizing environment,” USGS inked in an informational page on the metal.
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