As far as development is concerned, voestalpine focuses on pushing the digitalization of its entire value chain, developing innovative approaches for the mobility industry, and enabling CO2- neutral steel production.
Important R&D activities are aimed at mobility and energy—the two industries that are also voestalpine’s biggest earners. At present, these two technology-intensive sectors are experiencing a sea change toward resourceefficient, sustainable approaches.
Steel as a material has become absolutely indispensable to all of it. It contributes to sustainability in two ways: For one, steel can be recycled in its totality and re-used any number of times.
For another, steel enables lightweight construction in a variety of applications thanks to its product properties.
voestalpine develops high and highest tensile steels, press-hardened steel as well as ultra-high strength high-ductility steel for lightweight construction in the automotive and the commercial vehicle industry. This makes it possible to lower both fuel consumption and emissions in vehicles powered by combustion engines. Additional sustainability effects encompass potentially greater loads in commercial vehicles and thus fewer trips as well as the greater reach of battery-operated vehicles.
The company applies its expertise in the development of highest tensile steels including perfectly matched welding technologies to rail technology also. The development of TransANT, a freight car that weighs about 20% less than conventional freight cars, garnered the Austrian National Prize for Mobility in 2019. This platform wagon is robust and amenable to flexible uses, enables higher loads, and eliminates many train trips as a result.
In the Railway Systems segment, the Group’s R&D focus is on continuing to refine the material used for tracks into steel grades resistant to wear and tear, for one, and on digitalizing the turnout systems, for another. In turn, this yields high track system availability, boosts safety, and lowers the consumption of resources and energy.
voestalpine’s focus on sustainability even applies to special materials. For example, it developed a new steel alloy for manufacturers of Swiss premium watches that is not just particularly skin friendly and wear resistant, but also is resourcefficient in that it is made of up to 70% recycled steel.
The still young field of metal additive manufacturing enables the production of tools with especially long useful lives and substantially lower scrap rates because this technology makes it possible to perfectly adjust a product to its purpose. voestalpine develops and carries out all relevant process steps itself—from the production of the metal powder, to design and construction, all the way to actual additive manufacturing and finishing.
Batteries of electric vehicles (EVs), whose charge capacity has outlived their original purpose, are used in so-called energy storage farms, where they store electricity from regenerative sources. Hence they help to stabilize the network and balance peak loads. voestalpine supplies high-quality warehouse structures for these energy storage farms that fulfill stringent requirements as to connectivity, stable ambient temperature, and fire protection.