Steps towards sustainability and decarbonisation - impact of high recycled content and advanced casting on high formability products

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Engineering


To understand capability of EAF/Thin Slab Casting to produce clean steel suitable for high formability steel specifications (DX56+Z/DX57+Z) and Packaging steels applications.

Tata Steel is one of the leading global suppliers of automotive and packaging steel products and one of its future challenges will be to produce coated steels with good formability using new steelmaking, rolling and further processing technology. There is growing movement for new plant configurations to utilise low carbon steelmaking via an EAF coupled with the advancement of near net shape casting using thin slab casting technology. The advantage is it will open up opportunities to fully recycle coated steel scrap back into new coated steel products. Thus improving the recyclability of steels which pose challenges to integrated plants with regards to the impact of zinc in slag waste. This technology offers a number of economic and product benefits over traditional thick slab casting. The downside is the slab is typically less than 25% of the thickness of a thick slab caster and casting speeds are 3-4 times faster leading to a higher risk of non-metallic inclusions (NMIs) being drawn into the steel. These NMIs are highly detrimental to high formability coated applications for automotive and packaging where the resultant defect manifests as splitting. This is unacceptable to our customer base. Techniques exist to evaluate the steel substrate through microscopy and computerised tomography (CT) scans.

Proposed Activities:
1) Understand capability and techniques to quantify NMIs in steel.
2) Evaluate impact of steel cleanliness from thin slab casting.
3) Evaluate samples and impact of process conditions.
4) Develop lab based process.
5) Evaluate impact of NMIs on formability of coated steels.
6) Evaluate impact of NMIs on coating adhesion.
7) Evaluate feasibility to make high formability coated steels using high recycled content and advanced casting processes.

Planned Impact

The CDT will produce 50 graduates with doctoral level knowledge and research skills focussed on the development and manufacture of functional industrial coatings. Key impact areas are:

- The development of new products and processes to address real scientific challenges existing in industry and to transfer this knowledge into partnering companies. The CDT will enable rapid knowledge transfer between academia and industry due to the co-created projects and co-supervision.
- The creation of knowledge sharing network for partner companies created by the environment of the CDT.
- On average 2-3 publications per RE. Publications in high impact factor journals. The scientific scope of the CDT comprises a mixture of interdisciplinary areas and as such a breadth of knowledge can be generated through the CDT. Examples would include Photovoltaic coatings - Journal of Materials Chemistry A (IF 8.867) and Anti-corrosion Coatings - Corrosion Science (IF 5.245), Progress in Organic Coatings (IF 2.903)
- REs will disseminate knowledge at leading conferences e.g. Materials Research Society (MRS), Meetings of the Electrochemical Society, and through trade associations and Institutes representing the coatings sector.
- A bespoke training package on the formulation, function, use, degradation and end of life that will embed the latest research and will be available to industry partners for employees to attend as CPD and for other PGRs demonstrating added value from the CDT environment.

Wealth Creation
- Value added products and processes created through the CDT will generate benefits for Industrial partners and supply chains helping to build a productive nation.
- Employment of graduates into industry will transfer their knowledge and skills into businesses enabling innovation within these companies.
- Swansea University will support potential spin out companies where appropriate through its dedicated EU funded commercialisation project, Agor IP.

Environment and society
- Functionalised surfaces can potentially improve human health through anti-microbial surfaces for health care infrastructure and treatment of water using photocatalytic coatings.
- Functionalised energy generation coatings will contribute towards national strategies regarding clean and secure energy.
- Responsible research and innovation is an overarching theme of the CDT with materials sustainability, ethics, energy and end of life considered throughout the development of new coatings and processes. Thus, REs will be trained to approach all future problems with this mind set.
- Outreach is a critical element of the training programme (for example, a module delivered by the Ri on public engagement) and our REs will have skills that enable the dissemination of their knowledge to wide audiences thus generating interest in science and engineering and the benefits that investments can bring.

- Highly employable doctoral gradates with a holistic knowledge of functional coatings manufacture who can make an immediate impact in industry or academia.
- The REs will have transferable skills that are pertinent across multiple sectors.
- The CDT will develop ethically aware engineers with sustainability embed throughout their training
- The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusivity within our cohorts through CDT and University wide initiatives.
- The development of alumni networks to grow new opportunities for our CDT and provide REs with mentors.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02252X/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2635590 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/01/2022 31/12/2025 Freya Hamblin