Australian Steel Research Hub wins $28M funding boost

by David Fleschen

The Australian Federal Government has announced an additional $5 million in new funding for the University of Wollongong-led, ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Innovation (Steel Research Hub). The Steel Research Hub will be funded for five years (2021-2025) and led by Dr Paul Zulli.

The Minister for Education, The Hon Dan Tehan, announced the funding today (2 July 2020) as part of the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Program, which brings together the best and brightest researchers, scientists and engineers from higher education and industry to drive innovation and improve global competitiveness in key industries.

In addition to the ARC funding, the Steel Research Hub’s eight industry partners, BlueScope Steel, Liberty Primary Steel, Infrabuild, ArcelorMittal, Bisalloy, Australian Steel Institute, Weld Australia and Australian Industry Group will contribute another $13.9 million in cash and in-kind support.

The University of Wollongong, together with RMIT University, Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Newcastle, Deakin University, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Monash University, will contribute a further $9.5 million cash and in-kind.

The total funding for the Steel Research Hub is $28.4 million.

The first Steel Research Hub began operating in 2014 with the vision of bringing together teams of internationally recognised research and industry talent to deliver innovative solutions and breakthrough technologies in manufacturing and product development.  These teams focussed their attention on strategic outcomes that were not independently realisable.

The overarching goal of the new Hub is to support the transition of Australia’s steel manufacturing industry to a more sustainable, competitive and resilient position, based on the creation of new, higher value-added products and more advanced manufacturing processes.

The Hub Director, Dr Zulli welcomed the funding announcement, and said he looked forward to the Steel Research Hub strengthening its collaboration with the Australian steel industry, through delivering both new innovative research outcomes and training of a new generation of capable and influential researchers and technologists.

“A globally competitive domestic steel manufacturing industry is a strategic asset for Australia’s nation-building, economic growth and employment,” Dr Zulli said.

“The domestic industry must continue to provide a secure, flexible and high-quality local source of steel and products for infrastructure and construction, manufacturing, mining and agriculture.

“The research outcomes delivered over the coming five years will benefit the competitiveness and future growth of large and small steel-related businesses in Australia.  

“In turn, these should positively affect key societal challenges, such as providing affordable housing and quality infrastructure, developing longer-lasting materials, recycling of resources, and training a more capable and diverse workforce.”

Sean Wong, BlueScope’s Manager Product Innovation & Technology, said: “BlueScope are delighted to be a partner in the second ARC Steel Research Hub.  BlueScope invests significantly in both product and process innovation to sustain product leadership in our target segments.

“This second Steel Research Hub facilitates collaboration between BlueScope, UOW and eight other Australian Universities to develop and enable the next wave of technology innovation that will improve the competitiveness of BlueScope.”

These research activities are focussed in four main areas:  

  • New methodologies that significantly improve resource intensity and utilisation while maintaining productivity, quality and life of our manufacturing facilities;
  • Novel approaches to next-generation products incorporating improved functionality such as higher strength, ductility, durability and resilience;
  • Step-change performance in anti-corrosion treatments for products, new processing capability and more productive manufacturing facilities, and
  • New applications of enabling digital Industry 4.0 and other advanced manufacturing technologies to achieve a generational shift in capability across the supply chain.

Daksesh Patel, GFG Alliance Regional President (Australia and USA) & CEO InfraBuild said:  “InfraBuild and Liberty Primary Steel, part of the GFG Alliance, are excited to be industry partners for the new Steel Research Hub and welcome the additional funding provided by the Australian Government.

“With a huge pipeline of infrastructure projects expected over the next 10 years, innovation in steel has never been more important and we are proud to be part of it.

“The new technologies and products that will be developed through the hub will help keep the industry competitive and ensure Australian made steel is used in infrastructure projects across the country.”

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer L. Martin AC said the University’s strong historic links with Australia’s steel industry put it in an ideal position to drive innovation in the industry.

“Our researchers are recognised as world-leaders in many aspects of steel innovation and development,” Professor Martin said

“In its first five years, the Steel Research Hub has worked closely with industry to research and develop innovative products and processes that have enhanced the global competitiveness of Australian steel.

“With the announcement of a new Steel Research Hub, the University of Wollongong and its industry and research partners will continue to deliver world-class research, enhancing economic and environmental outcomes for the steel industry, and ultimately benefiting all Australians.”

Source and Photo: University of Wollongong

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