The vision of a smart, clean, green steel industry has come one step closer to fruition with the announcement of a new £35m initiative which will see steelmakers and universities work together on a seven-year research programme to transform the sector.
The network – dubbed ‘SUSTAIN’ – has been hailed as a significant landmark, representing the first time that UK steel producers, representatives and supporters have coalesced behind a coordinated programme of research and advancement.
It is also the largest ever single investment in steel research by a UK research council £10m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The objective of SUSTAIN is to reportedly form “a seed from which much wider research and innovation will grow”.
In this way, it hopes to transform the whole steel supply chain, making it “cleaner, greener and smarter, and more responsive to the fast-changing needs of customers”.
Drawing on a multitude of expertise, the network is led by Swansea University, partnered with the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick, and involves more than 20 partners across the UK steel industry including manufacturers, trade bodies, academic experts and research organisations.
Why is steel so important?
Steel is the most widely used structural material in the world. If a product isn’t made of steel, it’s made using steel.
The metal sits at the very heart of UK manufacturing and engineering, supporting sectors such as automotive, aerospace, packaging and defence.
It is an indispensable component of the UK’s future national construction and infrastructure such as transport, communications and energy, as well as for cutting-edge 21st century industries from energy-positive buildings to wind turbines and electric vehicles.