The creative spark of an Australian researcher
is about to transform steel making. New green technology that turns
waste plastic and rubber into steel will soon appear on the world market. OneSteel has signed a global deal
with Sydney’s University of New South Wales to sub-licence the technology. The process is the brain child
of Professor Veena Sahajwalla. Well what we have done is
we’ve actually created the ability to recycle waste plastics
and waste rubber for making steel. In the process itself, we’ve actually
shown that the steel making process can in fact become more energy efficient
so we’ve lowered our electricity consumption so it’s win-win from both recycling
waste materials as well as from energy consumption
that’s used in the steel making process. It was just such an exciting
opportunity with the environmental issues that were there.
Originally this project was all about environment, what can we do
to get rid of landfill? Then once we started doing the trials,
we saw that it was a major improvement of our productivity
and led to a reduction in our electrical energy and our cost. Items such as shopping bags,
take away containers and plastic drink bottles
are reduced to granulated plastic. These granules are then
injected into the furnace. This process accesses carbon,
an essential element in electric arc furnace steel making.
The process has the added benefit of holding in heat
which ultimately lowers the cost of steel making. What a researcher feels when
you’ve actually gone off and you know, come up with an idea,
tried it, tested it, proven all the theories and everything
works beautifully in the lab and that’s a big, amazing
achievement you know. But then the ultimate
icing on the cake is when you’ve got you know,
an industry that is so keen to take it on board
and is as excited as you are to in fact implement it
and to make it happen. That’s been amazing. Steel makers are looking
to reduce their cost and improve their productivity
and this is one way they can do it which is environmentally friendly.
It is a no-brainer.