In Part 1 of the Steel Research Hub Update, some team highlights and achievements from across the SRH’s three research programs were provided. We continue along this theme in this article.
Market-Focused Product Innovation
• The behaviour of advanced Quench & Temper (Q&T) steels during arc welding and thermal cutting. This project completed a detailed experimental program to assess and optimise the capability to thermally cut and weld high hardness (Q&T) wear plates based on titanium micro-alloyed steel grades. The key outcome for Bisalloy (and plate supplier, BlueScope) was new metallurgical knowledge and the capability to minimise the effect of cutting and welding parameters on the weld and heat affected zone, particularly in respect of microstructure and mechanical properties. The potential benefits are enhanced high-end wear plate products for various applications.
• Innovative Cladding and Ventilation Solutions for Mid-Rise Residential Buildings. This research evaluated the thermal characteristics of cold formed steel apartment buildings in order to optimise their design and operation. Various utilisations of the building façades to improve occupant comfort and reduce energy consumption were examined. Ventilation systems, energy generation systems and other innovative means of passively enhancing indoor environment quality were investigated. One of the key outcomes was quantifying the relative potential of a variety of dynamic climate-responsive envelope systems to improve the apartment’s thermal performance by taking advantage of changing outdoor conditions, helping to reduce the financial and environmental costs associated with heating and air conditioning.
• Development of Antimicrobial Coatings for Steel Surfaces. This project aimed to identify key factors preventing fungal growth on surfaces, allowing design techniques to be developed for coating technologies that contribute to the defence of a coating against fungal infestation. The build-up of organisms that degrade or contaminate the product, increases maintenance and replacement costs. This research was achieved through collaborative work between experimental characterisation and theoretical data from molecular dynamic simulations, which is unusual in this field. The impact of this project will allow greater validation and guidance of future research in this area.
Innovative Coating Technologies
• Liquid Metal Properties, Processing and Coating Quality. This project generated new fundamental knowledge of liquid alloy properties and understanding of how these vary with processing conditions, alloy composition and atmospheric exposure. Through the data generated from this project, a change to the processing conditions has been proposed to improve coating stability. The potential impact will be the economic and environmental benefits arising from more efficient use of the alloy coating, with associated reductions in energy consumption and raw materials usage.
• Structure and development of surface oxides on Mg-containing galvanic coatings of metallic coated steel products. This project developed a dedicated and advanced TEM sample preparation method which proved extremely valuable to high-resolution TEM analysis of surface coatings, enabling the characterization of the native oxide layers. The key impact is new insight concerning the composition and structure of surface layers which is supporting the development and assessment of new surface treatments to further improve the competitiveness of Australian manufactured coated steel in global building and construction applications.
• Anti-corrosion treatment of metallic coatings. The broad objectives were to understand more definitively the dissolution associated with AM coatings in aqueous environments, as a precursor to effective corrosion resistance provided by new surface treatments. Some of the initial research outcomes included the application of a novel online Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) electrochemical analysis technique to investigate dissolution rates from the surface of alloy coatings and targeted phases, under a range of exposure conditions. The potential impact of this research includes identification of new corrosion inhibitors leading to operational trials of a broad range of corrosion protection treatments.
Sustainable Steel Manufacturing
• Effect of Retained BOS Slag on Refractory Wear. This research provided a fundamental understanding of the effects of retained slag practice on Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) refractory wear. The key outcome was foundational knowledge for developing BOS vessel operation strategy to balance flux / slag composition targets with refractory wear and maintenance. The importance of this work would be in extending the life span of the BOS refractories, leading to a decrease in the cost per tonne of steel and decreasing the amount of waste, thereby improving the economic and environmental sustainability of the steelmaking process.
• Development of a Fundamental Particle Scale Approach to Modelling Blast Furnace Charging Phenomena. The key outcome of this project was the development of particle-based simulation models (DEM) and coupled fluid dynamics/particle-based models (CFD-DEM ) which have provided a new simulation capability of blast furnace burden distribution. Industrial application of these next generation models offers the potential for a step change in operational control needed to fully exploit multicomponent burdens and address the current need for predictive simulation of near wall burden conditions.
• The effect of Ti on the Kinetics of Phosphorous Removal during BOF Steelmaking. From a steelmaking plant perspective, the key outcomes were incorporation of new thermodynamic and kinetic data obtained from high‐temperature experiments into a) an operational model that accurately predicted the steel’s final P composition enabling a reduction in P reblows, and b) a model to optimise flux usage, plant practices and incoming P loads. The potential/realised impacts of this study are significant financial savings in flux usage and steelmaking productivity.