Innovation is often sparked by a frustrating experience. In this case, the car belonging to a senior executive of a major Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) broke down on a road trip, due to the complete failure of his fuel delivery system. The good news? A new fuel line application using nickel-plated steel was born.
Better Internal Protection
Photomicrographs from the fuel lines of the vehicle showed severe corrosion had clogged the lines, restricting flow of fuel to the engine. Fuel lines for gasoline powered vehicles have traditionally been manufactured from standard low carbon steel. OEMs concentrated on external tube coatings to protect against the corrosive attack of salt and mechanical damage from gravel. “Internal” surfaces did not garner the same attention until the increased use of alcohol blended fuels (ethanol blends) in automotive fuels. These hydroscopic fuels can be very corrosive to the internal diameter of a fuel line, leading to total system failure.
Growing Demand From OEMs
With increased use of Ethanol blended fuel, more nickel-plated steel is being requested by tube makers. The beauty rests in its physical properties. Nickel melts at roughly the same temperature as steel and when a nickel-plated steel sheet is formed into a tube and welded, the melted nickel flows over the weld bead encapsulating it creating a coated internal surface and a protective barrier against corrosion.
As fuel blends continue to evolve, nickel-plated steel has proven to be an effective material for automotive innovation.