SUSTAIN Manufacturing Hub

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

Abstract

SUSTAIN is an ambitious collaborative research project led by the National Steel Innovation Centre at Swansea University to transform the productivity, product diversity and environmental performance of the steel supply chain in the UK. Working with Warwick Manufacturing Group and the University of Sheffield, the SUSTAIN Manufacturing Hub will lead grand challenge research projects of carbon neutral steel and ironmaking and smart steel processing. Carbon neutral steel making will explore how we can transition the industry from using coal as its primary energy source to a mix of waste materials, renewable energy and hydrogen. Smart steel processing will examine how digital technology and sensors can be used to increase productivity and also explore how a transformation in the way in which steel is processed can add significant value and create new markets, in particular construction, whilst expanding the opportunities afforded by advanced steel products in the electrification of vehicular transport. The UK steel businesses cover different market sectors and are all engaged in this project committing >£13M in supporting funds. Tata Steel lead work on strip steel products used in automotive (inc electrical steels for generators and motors construction) and packaging applications. British Steel produce long products for key sectors such as rail transport and construction. Liberty Specialty produce unique steels for sectors such as aerospace and nuclear power, Sheffield Forgemasters manufacture products for power generation, defence and civil nuclear industries, and Celsa make section steels and reinforcement primarily for construction. This represents a key element of advanced materials that underpin a large proportion of the UK manufacturing sector. The increasing diversity and lower carbon intensity of UK made steel products together with greater productivity and efficiency will thus benefit the whole of UK manufacturing and create opportunities for manufacturing to make inroads into traditional areas for example by driving offsite manufactured construction alternatives to traditional low skill labour intensive routes. Steel is the world's most used and recyclable advanced material and this project aims to transform the way it is made. This includes approaches both to use and re-use it and harness opportunities to turn any waste product into a value added element for another industry. To illustrate, a steel plant produces enough waste heat to power around 300,000 homes. New materials can trap this heat allowing it to be transported to homes and offices and be used when required without the need for pipes. This then makes the manufacturing site an embedded component of the community and is clearly a model applicable to any other high energy manufacturing operation in other sectors. We will at each stage explore how our discoveries in transforming steel can be mapped onto other key foundation materials sectors such as glass, petrochemicals and cement. Implementation of the research findings will be facilitated via SUSTAIN's network of innovation spokes ensuring that high quality research translates to highly profitable and competitive processes.

Planned Impact

Industrial Impact: The six principal steel companies in the UK are aligned to support and implement the outputs of this ambitious programme and have committed almost £8M in support covering staff secondments, funded research positions, PhD and academic sponsorship and trial costs. It is also endorsed by the pan industry Steel Council. The effect on the wider manufacturing base of reducing the carbon intensity of steel production has massive value as do new steel products and processes that support key sectors requiring transformation including electrification of transport and manufactured buildings. We believe this will seed transformative growth in the UK manufacturing base as a whole and the grand challenge themes not only support steel but other foundation materials supply chains (glass, petrochemicals and cement) making the application of the research have truly global potential. These impacts will be realised via a structured approach to innovation that draws on transformative research in the hub and from the wider international academic community. SUSTAIN has a clear strategy for accelerating these impacts via the innovation hubs with SPECIFIC, WMG HVM Catapult and the Henry Royce Centre facilitating pan-supply chain innovation and the Materials Processing Institute upscaling novel processes. This will ensure sustainability for the industry, de-risking the processes by identifying technical pitfalls and future markets whilst bridging the valley of death.

Environmental Impact: The steel industry in the UK is a substantial energy consumer and producer of carbon dioxide. The ambition of SUSTAIN is to create an opportunity of radically reducing carbon emissions from production. With the traditional iron ore to steel route leading to around 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide released per tonne of steel, the opportunities for substantial carbon savings from the industry are clear since the projected demand for steel in the UK by 2020 is forecast to increase to 11Mt/y. This will represent a significant UK opportunity which, if successful, can be used globally in both developed and emerging economies allowing economic growth and global carbon emissions to be decoupled.

Economic Impact: The steel manufacturing sector supports 31,400 high skilled jobs in the UK. The ambition of this project is to create new opportunities that will allow the sector to grow to 35,000. The establishment of the NSIC at Swansea and the associated automotive focused hub at WMG has created 90 jobs in Tata alone within a newly re-invigorated R and D function and an additional 700 technical apprentices have been appointed within the sector in the last year. The recent Grant Thornton report into the future of the sector has identified potential to grow the GVA of the steel industry from £1.2bn to £2.4bn. This will require detailed research and training to be delivered by the UK HEI sector and SUSTAIN is the nucleation point for starting this ambitious delivery plan.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Styring P (2020) Oxygenated Transport Fuels from Carbon Dioxide in Johnson Matthey Technology Review

 
Description Materials Research Exchange (MRE) 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attendance and participation in the MRE 2020 Event organised by the KTN in London. The intended purpose was to demonstrate critical mass in Materials led research at Swansea University. Bringing together all similarly related projects at Swansea under one umbrella.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.swansea.ac.uk/engineering/materials-at-swansea/
 
Description Materials Research Exchange (MRE) 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact https://www.swansea.ac.uk/engineering/materials-at-swansea/

Attendance and participation in the MRE 2020 Event organised by the KTN in London. The intended purpose was to demonstrate critical mass in Materials led research at Swansea University. Bringing together all similarly related projects at Swansea under one umbrella.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ktn-uk.co.uk/events/live-materials-research-exchange-2020
 
Description SUSTAIN Inaugural Engagement Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formally launching the SUSTAIN project and presenting work and work plans for the project tasks. Providing a workshop platform for industrialists and academics currently involved with the project to meet and collaborate with industrialists, academics, focus groups etc who are not yet involved directly with SUSTAIN or steelmaking but could make huge contribution in terms of chemistry/physics/bioscience etc with respect to emissions/energy/circular economy. The scope for the SUSTAIN proof of concept proposals were also developed in these sessions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.swansea.ac.uk/press-office/news-events/news/2020/02/smarter-cleaner-greener-steel.php
 
Description invited participant at the UKRI Town Hall meeting - Manufacturing the Future utilising the Uks Large Facilities, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact invited participant at the UKRI Town Hall meeting - Manufacturing the Future utilising the Uks Large Facilities, London.
Fed into UK Treasury
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description invited speaker at the IoM3: cross cutting technologies Programme - 150th year celebration, Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact invited to speak at the IoM3: cross cutting technologies Programme - 150th year celebration, Sheffield on the theme of Active Buildings and the wider supply chain (steel component)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019