Steel that doesn’t rust
Harry Brearley, the son of a Sheffield steel smelter, left school at 12 to go to work in one of the city’s steelworks. He was an ambitious(AMBITION) chap and started to study metallurgy at home and in evening classes. He gradually(GRADUAL) built a reputation for expertise, and still in his 30s was chosen to run a new research(SEARCH) facility funded by two of Sheffield’s largest steel companies. In 1912, he was tasked by a small-arms manufacturer to find a material that could prolong(LONG) the life of their gun barrels. He set out to find erosion-resistant steel, but found corrosion-resistant steel instead.
The story goes that in 1913 he threw out some experimental(EXPERIMENT) steel made of 12.8 per cent chromium and 0.24 per cent carbon. A few weeks later, he found it in the yard still shiny(SHINE) as new. This apparently serendipitous discovery led to the transformation(TRANSFORM) of the already established cutlery industry in Sheffield. Stainless steel is now used in everything from surgical(SURGERY) instruments and turbine blades to architectural cladding.