Development of formable automotive steel grades through alternative steel making technologies

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


Tata Steel is one of the leading global suppliers of automotive steel products and one of the future challenges will be to produce steels with good formability for use in body in white applications. Currently this is done using ultra low carbon (ULC) interstitial free (IF) steels. IF steels allow automotive manufactures to produce aesthetically pleasing designs but one of the current challenges facing the steel industry is the need to decarbonise and utilise increasing levels of recycled steel. In order to meet these challenges various options will need to be explored. One option being considered by a number of European steelmakers, is to convert to electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking. For a range of specifications, EAF provides minimal challenges for switching from basic oxygen steelmaking. We believe IF steels will present a challenge due to the need for low carbon and low nitrogen levels not typically seen from EAF process routes. It is hoped that this project will develop knowledge in this field and the Research Engineer will accomplish the following objectives:

- Understand capability of EAF to produce low carbon and low nitrogen levels. Evaluate options to produce high formability steel specifications (DX56+Z/DX57+Z) via the EAF route.
Proposed Activities:
- Understand capability of EAF steel making especially with regards to producing interstitial free steel.
- Evaluate impact of steel cleanliness compared to BOF/RH route.
- Evaluate feasible levels of interstitial free elements and create lab casts to simulate (VIM).
- Develop lab-based processing route and evaluate mechanical properties (CASIM).
- Evaluate suitability for hot dip galvanising (HDSIM).
- Provide recommendations for future capability and process routes.

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 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2441554 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Hannah Clarke