Nanorefining is a process of enhancing a material with crystal structure through removing the defects in it's molecular bonding. The technique was discovered by the Pentagon Protectorate and is in wide use in it.
At first, a slab of material (preferably a metal) is heated almost to it's melting temperature and then is inserted into an "refining engine", wich is basically a room without any air, full of nanomachines. These are little robots then move around the hot metal and search for any defects and fix them, be it missing electron bonds or impurities. If wanted, atoms of other elements can be inserted to the engine and the nanomachines put these new atoms into bonds with the original material, efficiently forming alloys.
Quality of the material obtained from the process depends on the time the nanorefining was done. A slab of the civilian-grade Steel-30 takes a few days to be complete, but the superstrong Steel-98 takes many months before it is done.
Because of the nature of nanomechanics and manipulation of the crystal structures, nanorefining requires zero-g environment devoid of air. These conditions are only achieveable in space, and as such the process is only done in specialised stations in planetary orbit. Energy requirements are high due to the need to keep the material at exact temperature for long time, in some cases even months.
Resulting materials are stronger, more heat resistant, less flexible and conduct easier than the same unrefined materials, yet they retain their density. This allows for much sturdier products while not increasing the weight.
Nanorefined materials (and sometimes even unrefined ones) are usually suffixed by a number wich means how many percent of the structural defects have been fixed. Steel-30 has always 30% of it's defects removed. Steel-0 has 0% fixed defects, in other words it's normal steel straight from the foundry.
The Pentagon Protectorate nanorefines many materials, but the most important ones are metals:
- Steel-30 - civilian low grade nanosteel (3x stronger than Steel-0)
- Steel-70 - military grade nanosteel (11x stronger than Steel-0)
- Steel-98 - also called supersteel, used only rarely (100x stronger than Steel-0)
- Copper-85 - has almost zero electrical resistance, used in electronics
- Tungsten-60 - similar strength to Steel-70 but much denser, used in kinetic projectiles
- Titanium-80 - somewhat stronger than Steel-70 and lighter, expensive to produce
- Zircon-82 - actually a ceramic, brittle but extremely heat resistant
Other materials are produced too but aren't notable enough to be included.