New technologies for product development
In product development, we focus on the industries with the highest technological demands - mobility and energy. A wide range of innovative products supports both us and our customers in achieving sustainability goals. One focus of R&D is on products that are increasingly environmentally friendly, effective, durable, safe and highly recyclable.
Innovations in the mobility sector:
- Ultra-high strength steels for lightweight automotive construction
- High efficiency electrical steel for electromobility and generators for power generation
- Guard rails, seatbelt pretensioner tubes, high-strength profiles for driver's cabs and other products to increase safety
Innovations in the railway systems sector:
- High-quality, wear-resistant rails
- Intelligent switches with diagnostic systems for reliable availability of the rail track
Innovations in the energy sector:
- Components for wind turbines on- and offshore
- Support structures for photovoltaic installations
- Turbines for pumped storage power plants
- Seamless tubes for hydrogen transport
In addition, we strive to offer steel as a material and its processing in line with customer requirements. In parallel with the development of modern high-tech steels, tool steels are being further developed to ensure optimum machining. The development of wear-resistant coatings enables long tool life. Processing technologies, such as the hot forming processes of phs steels, light alloy forming, and material-specific welding and joining processes are all constantly being developed and adapted.
Additive manufacturing, i.e. 3D printing with metals, complements voestalpine's range of products and underlines the Group's research expertise. The young technology is developed entirely within the Group, from powder production through design to the finished component.
The key to process development?
Process development is aimed at optimizing existing steel manufacturing technologies, allowing us to play our role in contributing to energy saving and resource optimization. We are also focusing on digitalizing our processes and using artificial intelligence to enhance them, taking us further along the path towards smart factories. The consistent advancement of digitization enables the targeted collection and evaluation of all relevant data and ultimately fully integrated process routes. Processes can thus be made much more efficient: Failures and downtimes are reduced, operating personnel are supported, and product quality is permanently maintained at a high level or even increased.
We are also working on new technologies, such as using hydrogen in the steelmaking route. At H2FUTURE, we are investigating the integration of an electrolysis plant into the steel mill, as well as the use of green hydrogen in future steel production. In the HyFor - Hydrogen-based Fine Ore Reduction - process, iron ore fines are reduced to sponge iron using hydrogen. Development at the demonstration plant at the Donawitz site was successful, so that preparations are now underway to implement a pilot plant for continuous operation at the Linz site, incorporating the existing hydrogen electrolysis plant. A completely new technology is being researched in the "SuSteel - Sustainable Steelmaking" project. Still at the basic research stage, it is investigating how steel can be produced directly from iron ore by means of hydrogen plasma, without the intermediate step via pig iron.