In the programme, eleven research projects were carried through and, according to Mika Nykänen, CEO of the Association of Finnish Steel and Metal Producers, exceeded the goals set to improve the energy and material efficiency in the field. Within the programme, seventeen doctoral theses and over 400 scientific publications and theses were completed, 250 of which were international publications.
"We have achieved highly noteworthy results in ELEMET, and we are pleased with the level of research centeredness in the programme. The joint R&D investments in the field have increased and will also remain strong in the years to come. Furthermore, the member companies of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries can adopt this great cooperation model of ours through FIMECC, aiming at the world's best competence", says Nykänen.
An apt example of the programme's effectiveness was the 'Material-efficient Blast Furnace' project that focused on improving the energy and material efficiency of the ferrous industry. As a result, the Raahe steel works has been able to recycle its by-product materials on a whole new level and reduce the use of primary raw materials to a highly significant extent. These outcomes will have a considerable financial bearing, and also environmental significance.
A long list of improvements
Other key research targets in the programme included the process models and simulators of metal processing. Through modelling and simulation, processes can be developed without the need for expensive pilot plants and time-consuming test runs. One of the top results from the programme were the extremely fast and accurate converter and reactor models that help simulate the different process phases of steel manufacture and related process steering.¨
A new, efficient simulator was developed for steel casting that allows simulating the behaviour of steel grades in the casting process. In the programme, a significant knowledge leap was also made regarding sulphide substances as their features were studied in an extensive international cooperation project.
As regards environmental protection, important results included recovery methods for residual metals from steel production dust, allowing the reuse of valuable metals. While doing so, harmful substances can also be abstracted and transformed into harmless forms.
Participants in the Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation of Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster FIMECC ELEMET programme included Outokumpu Stainless, Ruukki Metals (today, SSAB Europe), Outotec Finland, Boliden Harjavalta, Boliden Kokkola and Norilsk Nickel as well as Aalto University, University of Oulu, Lappeenranta University of Technology, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Åbo Akademi University and University of Helsinki.
The overall extent of the research work carried out in FIMECC ELEMET programme amounted to 37 million euros. The share of the industry was 20 million and that of the universities 17 million euros. Tekes funded the programme with 17 million euros.
"What was especially great about this programme was the commitment of the companies and the very close and open cooperation between the companies and the research institutions", Tekes Programme Manager Kari Keskinen commends.
Tel. +358 2950 55843
kari.keskinen (at) tekes.fi