Steel is the world’s most used and recyclable advanced material and underpins the UK manufacturing base. Swansea University is therefore delighted that the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) has awarded the Steel and Metals Institute (SaMI) £3million of capital funding to support its vision of delivering a 21st century steel industry.
This funding will enable SaMI to help the UK iron and steel making industry to transform into a low carbon, resource efficient sector utilising societal waste, such as plastics, which are currently non-recyclable.
The focus of the additional funding will be on smart steel processing of high value products, including steels for electric powered vehicles, manufactured affordable CO2-positive buildings and sustainable packaging that can only be delivered through the use of steel. The aim is to ensure the UK steel industry remains competitive in the fourth industrial age, able to produce the bulk of the steel needed within our own shores.
This funding supports five key areas of research ie carbon neutral steelmaking, advanced alloy optimisation, performance in extreme environments, novel functional metallic coatings and imaging science.
The research will be delivered by technology and innovation experts from numerous leading and diverse organisations working together with and at the Steel and Metals Institute who will deliver the research needed to bring these products and processes to industry.
The facilities at the Institute (SaMI) will provide both research-scale and key process scale-up equipment prior to commercialisation.
Brian Edy, director of the Steels and Metals Institute said:
“The funding delivered to SaMI through HEFCW represents the early steps in transforming ideas into reality, creating a 21st Century steel and metals industry and future-proofing steel in Wales and the UK.”
“Bringing new products and processes to industry are important but we also need to look at what can be done to reduce societal waste, whilst improving the health and well being of our regions.”
“What is perhaps less obvious is that the blast furnace steel making process can be used to solve societal waste problems through substituting coal with waste materials that contain carbon (such as plastics). This is quickly attainable and already happens in Japan and Germany.”
“What is new is how we could then use process by products as resources. We can make insulation materials for buildings out of slag waste from the steel making process instead of combustible plastic foams, we can recover heat energy to heat homes and begin to transform steel works into renewable energy hubs for solar, wind and thermoelectric power.”
“The HEFCW funding will go some way to helping us to develop these innovative ideas further.”