Energy efficiency as a core issue 3 minutes spent reading

Energy efficiency as a core issue

Volkmar Held
As a freelance writer, Volkmar Held reports for voestalpine on topics that move people. The content of his stories ranges from archaeometallurgy to future technologies.

The best possible (= the most efficient) use of natural resources is a core issue of environmental protection. voestalpine has been regarded as a pioneer in energy efficiency and environmental protection for years - with the aim of increasing the efficiency of the company’s own production processes and of its products for customers.

Ladyvenom voestalpineAt voestalpine, the energy required to produce one ton of crude steel fell by 15% between 1999 and 2015, while product quality improved continuously. Facts that speak above all for the Group’s successful research and development. Increasing energy efficiency means increasing economic efficiency and reducing environmental pollution—and is therefore an important core R&D topic in the voestalpine Group. The goal is to optimize production processes and improve products contributing to increasing energy efficiency.

Efficiency and environmental protection

Voestalpine Kraftwerk - Kondensatrückführung

New heat recovery plant at the Linz power plant

In combustion power plants, materials play a key role in converting thermal energy into electrical energy. One goal when developing high-temperature-resistant steel grades for energy applications is to ensure that parts of a power plant turbine can withstand the highest possible steam temperatures so that the same amount of electrical energy can be generated with less fuel—and with less CO2 emissions.

Researchers and developers at voestalpine have developed chrome steel CB2, a material that can withstand steam temperatures of up to 630°C. This is an important step for the environment since the average efficiency of coal-fired power plants worldwide is now around 33%. Increasing this by just one percent would reduce this power generator’s global CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2 to 3%, i.e. by around 240 million tons of CO2 per year.

More efficient production at voestalpine

The same principle can be applied in voestalpine production. Using fewer kilowatt hours of electricity to produce a ton of steel or product means more energy-efficient production. voestalpine companies worldwide are employing a variety of measures to move to the next level of energy efficiency. Efficiency examples at voestalpine companies:

  • A modern waste heat and heat recovery concept will contribute significantly to the high energy efficiency at the new special steel plant in Kapfenberg. The heat generated in the melting units is temporarily stored in a hot water tank and then fed into the internal voestalpine district heating network.
  • The use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of oil or propane/butane (LPG) at Uddeholms AB in Hagfors saves more than 20 GWh of energy annually.
  • Five years ago, Buderus Edelstahl in Wetzlar reduced energy consumption per ton of steel by 8.6% through saving electrical energy.
  • When using the new 1600 ton press at voestalpine Automotive Components Dettingen, energy-efficient processes such as energy recovery, peak load reduction, etc. ensure an annual savings of 450 MWh of electrical energy.

Bringing efficiency to the customer


Innovation compacore® for more efficient electric motors

voestalpine offers a large selection of innovative products to support its customers in their quest for higher energy efficiency:

  • High-strength steels and pioneering production processes from Group R&D projects (such as phs-ultraform® and phs-directform®) help manufacturers worldwide implement lightweight construction in the mobility sector.
  • Extremely durable materials are used in the aerospace industry. Their outstanding properties make it possible to reduce component dimensions, but require special production experience. At voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace, many years of know-how and complex simulation programs led to the development of superior manufacturing processes that are extremely efficient in terms of material and energy consumption. This further optimizes near-net-shape forging on one of the world’s largest screw presses.
  • Increasing efficiency is also a major issue in the growing electromobility industry: Here, the innovative compacore®—full-faced bonded lamination stacks—from voestalpine Automotive Components Nagold GmbH ensures particularly efficient energy conversion.

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Volkmar Held