In addition to further development of steel, which continues to be a very versatile material with great future potential, voestalpine is also doing research on hybrid materials and the processing of other materials such as aluminum. This is enabling voestalpine to create components with greater durability, lightweight structure, minimal use of materials, and increased safety.
Efficiency and emissions reduction are equally relevant for both the mobility and the energy sectors.
Automotive and aerospace sectors
Both in the automotive and the aerospace sectors, development is continuing to move in the direction of reducing the empty weight of cars and aircraft in order to lower fuel consumption and, in turn, emissions as well.
For years, voestalpine has been supplying ultra–high–strength steel for lightweight automobile construction and special steel alloys, titanium alloys, and nickel-based alloys for aircraft components that must withstand high stress.
As an increase of the efficiency of turbines— whether in an aircraft propulsion system or in a steam power plant—is always accompanied by an increase of the operating temperature and therefore a higher thermal load on the material, voestalpine is developing special alloys and custom-tailored forging and heat treatment processes for these applications.
Rails and turnouts
voestalpine’s development efforts in the rail and turnout sectors aim at achieving top passenger comfort combined with the highest degree of railway safety.
In the railway heavy-haul sector, axle loads are constantly increasing worldwide for economic reasons and are currently being increased to more than 40 tons. For this area of application, a heavy-duty turnout that integrates special rail sections was developed and successfully installed in Australia. This new turnout design, which includes a special turnout point setting system solution, guarantees use with an axle load of more than 40 tons (in Europe, 22.5 tons are currently the norm).
With its core product of turnouts as the foundation, voestalpine is now specialized in the development of complete high-tech systems. The life cycle cost optimization concept for turnouts includes assistance and support during the entire life cycle of the product—from measurement of the site to the pre-assembly of the turnouts at the plant, transport in special freight cars, support during the installation process, turnout service, and turnout grinding to taking back and recycling old turnouts.
voestalpine addresses the high economic impact caused by corrosion by developing specially refined plates and sections for the automotive and construction industries and by producing sour gas-resistant ultra-high-strength heavy plate, oilfield pipes, wire applications, and welding consumables for energy technology.
Flexible pipes are used in the petroleum and natural gas extraction industry for the transport of water and gases under extreme conditions. These pipes consist of several metal layers that are wound from flat and shaped wire. This high-quality wire has special qualities enabling it to handle high pressure and tensile stress and to be sour gas-resistant. In the further development of wire, focus is currently on the improvement of its sour gas-resistance and the optimization of its cold-forming capabilities.
voestalpine Steel Research Prize
Together with the Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials (ASMET), voestalpine has endowed a Steel Research Prize that is awarded to young researchers from academia or business and industry for outstanding research work. It is awarded every two years and is endowed with EUR 12,000. The prize recognizes high-caliber research work relative to metallurgy, materials science, processing technology, and their application.
This prize was awarded for the first time in May 2015 to an employee of voestalpine Böhler Welding Austria for his exceptional dissertation about maraging steel.