Practical research solutions for steel innovation

Dr Barrie Goode has worked in senior technical roles across the steel industry in a career spanning 25 years. Barrie explains how SaMI collaborates across the steel industry and supply chain to provide practical solutions that support steel innovation.

 

How are you and the team at SaMI helping with steel innovation?

We do a lot around alloy development – melting, rolling, pickling, and annealing. SaMI has the facility to test and analyse products to ensure they meet specification. SaMI is unique as it is one of the few facilities in the UK to enable a full through chain simulation for steel.

SaMI’s focus is on steel innovation. We are focused on helping steel producers, suppliers and end-users to adapt to existing challenges, such as decarbonisation and net zero.  This includes construction, energy and transport industries, as well as the steel industry itself. We know the industry needs to address governmental decarbonisation targets and we focus on practical solutions for long term sustainability.

Decarbonisation of a carbon heavy industry such as steel is about helping companies to innovate processes and products. We want to help companies innovate and modernise to become fit for the future. It’s about addressing the product lifecycle issues and the circular economy.

The steel innovation and research we do at SaMI is about future proofing the UK steel and metals industry – it’s not just a short-term fix.

 

How important are practical research solutions in steel innovation?

I think ‘practical solutions’ is the key thing here. The steel innovation we undertake at SaMI is very much focused on helping industry with whatever it is they need for more effective products and processes.

For example, steel producers who need effective alloy and downstream product and process development – that takes time and is expensive. It carries a lot of risk and involves processing high volumes of product. At SaMI we can simulate at pilot scale to minimise the risk of introducing new products at an industrial level.

We can simulate the process at scale to enable companies to transfer to plant and go straight to production knowing they can do so safely and effectively in a significantly shorter timescale than if they were doing this in-house.

 

How does SaMI deliver steel innovation?

The steel industry has always invested in research and innovation. What we do really well here at SaMI is adaptability in our approach to steel innovation.

There are plenty of organisations tackling steel innovation, but they tend to have bespoke expensive equipment. The problem with this is that this equipment cannot be easily maintained and adapted for future testing to address new problems and solutions. Therefore, these R&I organisations have limited their testing to specific processes and solutions that cannot then be adapted to other things.

At SaMI we have the combined capacity of an established, extensive range of complex testing with the environment, knowledge and competency to design, test, interpret and provide a robust analysis of recommendations for companies to adopt.

 

Does SaMI have a unique approach to steel innovation?

I don’t know of anyone else with the same approach as SaMI.

We combine expertise, equipment, and an agile approach to meet current and future steel innovation needs. We have the right adaptable environment, the people and kit, with the capacity for research to design, test, simulate and analyse alternative processes.

Our people come from a range of backgrounds with different disciplines. The SaMI team combines practical knowledge of the industry with academic expertise. It takes a long time to have accumulated this knowledge and expertise which cannot be quickly or easily mimicked.

You combine that with our approach to making small changes to kit to be able to do something the equipment hasn’t been used for before, and I think that is what’s distinctive and unique about SaMI’s approach to steel innovation.

 

Published October 2021.

Barrie Goode is the Operations & Commercial Manager for the Steel and Metals Institute at Swansea University.

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