Move Along Airplanes – Submarines Overtake Travel


China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours. Not much is known about the team’s progress because it is a military project, but the SCMP reports that Germany, Iran and the US are working on similar projects.


The team from the Harbin Institute of Technology was inspired by a supersonic torpedo invented by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Water yields more friction on an object than air, which should mean that a submerged boat or weapon could never travel at the same speed as an airplane.

But the Soviet military figured out how to put a missile inside an air bubble to cheat this rule of science — a process known as ‘supercavitation’. They created the Shakval, a torpedo that could reach speeds of over 379 km/h, much faster than any other torpedo available.


The Chinese team, led by engineering professor Li Fengchen, sought to apply the same process to a submarine by overcoming two central problems. The submarine would need to be launched at speeds of up to 100 km/h in order to generate the air bubble. It would also require very advanced steering because the ship’s rudder would be inside the bubble, not touching the water. The answer was found in the form of a manmade liquid membrane that would cover the submarine’s surface. The result is a vessel that could reach the speed of sound, crossing the entire Pacific Ocean in approximately 100 minutes. Once supercavitation is harnessed, it could be incorporated into any underwater activity.


Shanghai Metal manufactures the stainless steel used in submarine hull manufacturing. To find out more, please visit our websiteLinkedInTwitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or you could try our new mobile app by scanning our QR code.

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Sources: SCMP, Elite Daily

Siobhan R.// SMC Editor

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Stainless Steel Sales Boost

Did you know that nickel accounts for half the cost of stainless steel? Nickel surged 41% this year. Why? Indonesia, the largest supplier to China, banned ore exports in order to spur investments from domestic smelters instead of international smelters. Indonesia’s ban has created a global deficit in production until the estimated year of 2019. On the bright side, this downturn in supply is increasing profit for mining companies.

nickelNickel makes up 8 to 9% of series 300 stainless steel, which is about two thirds of the global output. Buyers of stainless steel purchase more products to avoid higher surcharges. As nickel prices surge, the steel industry is seeing some recovery from previous losses. The nickel-fueled gains may not last long. There are talks that China may build smelters in Indonesia to get around the ban.


China, the biggest metals user in the world, may become a net importer of stainless steel this year. This is because of the dismantled nickel-ore supply from Indonesia. China accounts for 53% of global stainless-steel output. In fact, China had a cost advantage by proactively developing technology to use lower-cost nickel pig iron. The lower-cost nickel pig iron helped lower the price of refined nickel.

It is estimated that Chinese stainless steel output will grow 9.1% in 2014. Last year, the stainless steel output increased 21% with more low-nickel content alloys produced. Construction of Chinese smelters in Indonesia may take an entire year. De-bottlenecking of supply will not occur until mid-2015.

Stainless steel makers all over the world are seeing an increase in sales as customers stock up to avoid higher raw-material surcharges. The increase in sales is reviving prospects for in an industry that accumulated losses since the financial crisis.

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