In the business year 2012/13, the voestalpine Group has a new record budget of EUR 132 million for the development of products and processes. Its research activities are directed toward the long-term expansion of quality and technology leadership, particularly in the defined growth industries of mobility and energy as well as further process optimization with regard to energy and raw materials efficiency and another reduction in emissions.
The top priority is a holistic view of products over their entire life cycle, from the raw materials used to production and finally, to the recycling phase; this includes establishing an overarching ecological context in order to develop additional optimization potential. By developing new steel grades and improving existing ones on an ongoing basis, the voestalpine Group is striving to achieve a sustainable increase in energy efficiency of the finished products. This applies to lightweight automobile construction, which enables substantially lower CO2 emissions due to the significant reduction in weight, as well as to new applications in the energy sector that make considerably higher efficiency possible in both the conventional sector and for renewable sources of energy.
The Group project “voestalpine Future Markets,” which is slated to run for several years, deals with the coordinated identification and utilization of innovative technologies spanning the Group’s entire value chain and includes a number of new developments with regard to wind power that are being vigorously pursued. In collaboration with well-respected external partners and research institutions, a prototype of a maintenance-free lattice tower for wind power installations was developed within the scope of a recent project. Its objective was to eliminate the high maintenance requirements, which placed traditional lattice towers at a disadvantage compared to other methods of construction, by deploying new joining processes and utilizing innovative special sections. Furthermore, the new modular concept stands out due to its significant advantages in the sectors of transport and logistics by providing substantial economies in materials, a more lightweight construction, improved stability, and overall, a considerable increase in efficiency. The prototype is currently in the test phase.
Furthermore, the voestalpine Group is a leading participant of a number of research projects at the EU level, which are driven by industry; the subject of these projects is the ecological potential of steel. These long-term projects are focused on the sectors of mobility and energy.