Future Uses of Steel
While steel has many uses today, some wonder if this material will continue to be used in the future. Some experts predict it will be replaced by materials that are stronger and lighter, while others argue that steel will simply continue to evolve so that it is that stronger, lighter material.
The automobile industry is one of the largest users of steel, and that’s not really expected to change. While aluminum usage may increase and there may be less steel used in future vehicles, many still expect some steel to be used. A representative from Audi, the manufacturer that uses the most aluminum in its vehicles, has stated that he believes steel will always have a place. One reason for this is that aluminum costs twice as much as steel does. Assembling and repairing aluminum parts is also more expensive, so unless the cost of aluminum changes, steel will continue to be used.
Another reason that steel will continue to be used in the future is that it’s a renewable resource. While it’s true that about a third of all steel used in a year is new steel, that’s only because there’s not enough recycled steel to meet the demand. However, steel can be fully recycled and reused without losing any of its durability. Steel also plays a major part in building wind turbines, and as renewable wind energy becomes more and more widespread, more steel will be needed.
Steel is also expected to continue to be used in buildings. Its cost and durability are reasons why steel has been used for years in construction, and there’s no reason for that to change. Buildings made of steel continue to stand decades after their construction. Many sustainable buildings are built around a frame of steel. It can be used to create low-energy buildings that are thermally responsive.
Steel is considered to be an evolving material—even after all these years, engineers and scientists are still finding ways to manipulate the structure of steel to make it lighter and stronger. There’s no reason to anticipate that to change. In fact, some recent discoveries have shown that some properties of steel may be able to be made even stronger via a squeezing technique. If this is true, we may already be working on the next generation of steel.
While it’s true that steel may be replaced by other materials in some areas, it’s also true that the material probably isn’t going to be completely replaced any time soon. There will continue to be a use for steel in a number of industries.