Not one, but two new Christian Doppler Laboratories — at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) and the Montanuniversität Leoben — are expanding our expand our research & development by focusing on intelligent processes for environmentally friendly steel products. As a corporate partner, we are delighted about the joint development work in this successful partnership between science and industry.
For more than 30 years, we have been working with the Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG) on innovative product and process optimization. The cutting-edge Christian Doppler Laboratories have proven many times that application-oriented basic research can achieve more through close collaboration with scientific partners. We have always used collaboration as a valuable way to enhance corporate research and to enable and accelerate the development of new processes and products. The Intelligent Process Control for High-Quality Steel Products laboratory at the Vienna University of Technology and the Knowledge-Based Design of Advanced Steels laboratory at the Montanuniversität Leoben expand our research activities with modern and future-oriented methods.
In the Christian Doppler Laboratories (which are set up for a maximum of seven years), research groups develop fundamental application-oriented knowledge based on the corporate partner’s specific issue. Much knowledge and experience is shared. The aim is to create a fundamental understanding of the subject matter, which is absolutely essential for rapid product and process development. The scientists in the CD Laboratory delve deeper into the fundamentals than the company could do on its own. The company partner incorporates the findings into the development of new products and processes.
Intelligent process control for high-quality steel products
The Christian Doppler Laboratory uses development approaches based on physical models and on the results of machine learning from data obtained during the manufacturing process or in the lab. This hybrid approach has proven to be a true success factor, allowing us to further optimize our already highly developed products and processes. Modern control engineering methods are needed to achieve high product and process quality while working efficiently and conserving resources. The newly opened Christian Doppler Laboratory for “Intelligent Process Control for High-Quality Steel Products” will systematically pursue this approach through 2029.
Green steel: highly efficient and environmentally friendly
The new CD Laboratory at the Montanuniversität Leoben’s Department of Materials Science is also focusing on “Knowledge-Based Design of Advanced Steel”. This laboratory is researching the fundamentals for producing high-performance steels with a lower CO2 footprint. The overriding goal is to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions generated during steel production by switching from coal-based blast furnace technology to a green-power electric steel route using steel scrap.
More scrap also means more undesirable accompanying and trace elements. Their influence on steel quality is investigated in the laboratory using a sophisticated combination of experimental methods and numerical simulations.
In the past we have successfully partnered with Christian Doppler Laboratories, including the Johannes Kepler University Linz, the Technical Universities of Vienna and Graz, and the Hagenberg University of Applied Sciences. Sophisticated modeling approaches were used to describe the interaction of water droplets, dust particles, and gas so reliably that the results could be used to implement efficiency-enhancing modifications to the blast furnace. Mathematical models and algorithms that allow optimum process control and real-time line regulation were implemented at the hot-rolling mill and on the hot-dip galvanizing lines, significantly increasing their efficiency. Characterizing and modeling the physical processes involved in the production of materials allowed us to optimize the production of high-performance alloys for lightweight construction and high-temperature applications. Thanks to this successful collaboration, we were also able to enhance and optimize how slabs are stored and transported.
The list of pioneering research fields is far from exhausted. We are currently involved in ten active Christian Doppler Laboratories and in a Josef-Ressel-Centre. Selective recovery of specialty metals using innovative process concepts, nanoscale phase transformations, inclusion metallurgy in modern steel production, and designing high-performance alloys using thermo-mechanical process technology are just a few of the current focus topics. In the future, together with the CD Laboratories, we want to continue to pursue key topics such as sustainability, energy savings, recycling, among other things with the help of the digitalization.