Innovation at the voestalpine Group remains focused on those industries with the greatest long-term growth potential, i.e., mobility and energy, as well as sustainability and environmental compatibility. The voestalpine Synergy Platform, which took place, so to speak, as an annual “industry conference on innovation” for the seventh time last October, was likewise concerned with “energy and resource efficiency” this year and provided the voestalpine Group’s research staff, as well as external experts, with the chance to have a concentrated exchange and networking opportunity on this topic.
In the area of process developments, focus was placed—beside energy and resource efficiency—primarily on issues such as lowering CO2 and zero waste, and degree of purity and quality. Thus, for instance, all production processes were investigated for potential resource recovery from recyclable materials and energy. For example, projects in collaboration with Austria’s Leoben University of Mining and Metallurgy are currently underway that aim for heat recovery from slag. With regard to resource efficiency, the focus is on increasing the flexibility of input materials, such as through innovative mixtures of ores or the acceleration of the use of natural gas over coal through the utilization of HBI/DRI technology, for example.
The further optimization of the entire process chain through improved compatibility and coordination of individual process steps continues to advance by simulating metallurgical process and forming technology, on the one hand, and by developing model-based systems management on the other.
In the area of product development, the current focus for mobility and energy remains in the field of ultra-high strength steels—specifically HD, or high ductility steel—in the next generation of electric steel strip, tools and tool materials for high and ultra-high strength steels, forged aviation components made from nickel-based and titanium-aluminum alloys, head check and wear-resistance optimized rail steel, life-cycle optimized turnouts, high tensile cold extrusion wire materials, new kinds of section and tube concepts based on high-strength coated steels, welding consumables for ultra-high strength and heat-resistant applications as well as parts and components for the renewable energies sector.