In Economic Turmoil, Environment Remains Key

Stainless, Steel, Sustainability

Even during periods of economic turmoil, the environment remains a key issue for our world.

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By 2050, it is estimated that there will be two billion more people living in the world’s cities which, according to experts, will mean that world construction will grow by more than 70% and reach $15 trillion by 2025, outpacing global GDP. Part of the solution is to build with steel – 50% of steel is used in construction. With four people per house, this will mean providing 1,427 homes every hour, with most of them needed in Asia and Africa. How can such growth be made sustainable?

As most people are aware, steel is used in so many important applications, from bridges and other large constructions, trains and rail lines to industrial machinery, housing, offices, hospitals, cars, buses and bicycles, to name but a few examples. Steel delivers a number of unique environmental benefits, such as product longevity, recyclability, easy transportation and less raw material wastage. In addition, steel offers architectural and design flexibility due to its inherent strength, which allows large span distances and curves to be easily incorporated into designs.

Perhaps best of all, steel is 100% recyclable, without losing any of its properties or strength, and thus reducing the solid waste stream, which results in saved landfill space and the conservation of natural resources. Indeed, more steel is recycled each day than any other material. Even better, the steel industry as a whole has dramatically improved its energy efficiency over the past 30 years, cutting energy consumption by 50% per tonne of steel produced and substantially reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, also per tonne of steel.

The industry is always looking for ways to improve, and to that end a project is in place in the United States that explores the possibility of replacing carbon with hydrogen in blast furnaces. In addition, ULCOS, which stands for Ultra–Low Carbon Dioxide(CO2) Steelmaking, is a consortium of 48 European companies and organisations from 15 European countries that have launched a co-operative research and development initiative to enable drastic reduction in CO2 emissions from steel production. The consortium consists of all major EU steel companies, energy and engineering partners, research institutes and universities and is supported by the European Commission. The aim of the ULCOS programme is to reduce today’s CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

From a human health perspective, steel frames have proven ideal for the ‘healthy home’ concept. The incidence of asthma and sensitivity to chemicals is on the increase and steel frames have been used to achieve allergen-free and dust-free interiors. This requires techniques such as special sealing around windows, moisture barrier systems in the walls, extensive insulation, and whole house ventilation systems. Steel frames retain their original dimensions, which is a major factor in maintaining effective long-term sealing.

Steel is already being used to help manufacture lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as renewable energy infrastructure including wind turbines, solar installations, smart electric grids and energy-efficient housing and commercial buildings. Its economic benefits include its quick construction off-site, which means less site disturbance and waste, more usable floor space, e.g. thinner floors allowing for more stories in a building, the flexibility to re-configure buildings and steel has a long life with low maintenance, plus energy efficiency for lower operating costs.

Sited: WorldSteel

Ashley G. // Editor SMC

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An Industry Built On Innovation

Packaging, Stainless, Steel, Sustainability

Steel Packaging

 

Steel Can
The steel can was invented more than 200 years ago.

Cans were first used as containers for food during the Napoleonic wars. The idea for preserving food by heating it in containers was developed by Nicolas Appert. He used glass jars, which were sent to French troops on the Russian front. In 1810, British merchant Peter Durand was granted the patent for a method of preserving food and other perishable items using vessels made of various materials, including steel.

Not surprisingly, food safety is still one of the most important benefits of canned food packaging.

However, food storage is only one of the many applications of steel packaging.

Steel packaging is durable, tamper-resistant and convenient. It is also ‘shelf-stable’, meaning that it can protect the contents from deterioration for a long time. In addition to these attributes, the steel used in packaging also has an aesthetic function. After all, packaging is designed not only to store the product but also to advertise it to the consumer.

An industry built on innovation

In some countries, steel cans are also referred to as tin cans or simply tins. There are thousands of applications, from the familiar soft drink can to unusually-shaped paint tins that are easy to hold in one hand and retro designer biscuit tins. Steel packaging is used for:

  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Promotional materials
  • Aerosols
  • Paints and chemicals
  • Bottle tops and caps

The majority of steel used in packaging is tinplate, which is steel that has been coated with a layer of tin to prevent corrosion. Although tinplate only accounts for around 1% of steel production, it is a highly visible and dynamic industry. Brands and products compete for consumers’ attention on the shelves of supermarkets and other retailers.

The manufacturing processes used in steel packaging are high-tech and sophisticated. Commercial production began in 1812, in a canning factory near London that supplied food to the British army. In 1846, cans were manufactured at the rate of 60 an hour. Modern can-makers can produce up to 1,000 cans a minute.

Once the steel is coated with tin, the tinplate can be coated with polymer, lacquered and printed. The final result is an attractive, safe and functional product.

Highly recyclable

Steel holds a unique position as a sustainable packaging material because it is 100% recyclable. Steel cans are the most recycled form of packaging. A significant proportion of all the steel in a can comes from recycled sources.

 

Cited: World Steel

Ashley G. // Editor SMC

New Times Call For New Solutions

Stainless, Steel, Sustainability

LCA

It is time the world starts to look at the larger picture.  The following facts may lead you to question yourself or someone else during your next decision phase. We must remember that costs are not only those we see in the direct manufacturing of a product but also hidden in the use and recycling phases.

Key facts:

  • Life cycle assessment (LCA) is vital for the future. Environmental regulations that only regulate one phase (the use phase) of a product’s life cycle can create unintended consequences, such as increased CO2 emissions.
  • One example of this is vehicle exhaust or tail pipe regulations which encourage the use of low density materials which are more CO2intensive to produce.
  • LCA considers production, manufacture, the use phase and end-of-life recycling and disposal. Life cycle thinking leads to immediate environmental benefit.
  • In addition to CO2, LCA assesses other impacts such as resource consumption, energy demand and acidification.
  • LCA is easy to implement, cost effective and produces affordable and beneficial solutions for material decision-making and product design.
  • Worldsteel developed one of the first global sector databases for life cycle inventory data and invests to keep it current.

 

Cited: World Steel

Ashley G. // Editor SMC

STEEL – a Sustainable Future Ahead

Uncategorized

steel_cans_0Steel is essential to the modern world, and its use is critical in enabling man to move towards a sustainable future. Whether in lighter, more efficient vehicles or renewable energy generation, steel is a fundamental part of a greener world. Steel is also necessary for new, highly efficient power stations and the construction of smart electrical grids, transport infrastructure development, energy-efficient residential housing and commercial buildings.

More than 1.6 billion tonnes of steel are produced every year.

Currently, 45% of steel is produced and used in mainland China. There will be continuing growth in the volume of steel produced, particularly in developing areas such as Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, where steel will be vital in raising the welfare of developing societies. In these regions, more than 60% of steel consumption will be used to create new infrastructure.

 

 


Energy efficiency

In the last 50 years, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 60%. However, due to this dramatic improvement in energy efficiency, it is estimated that there is little room for further improvement on the basis of existing technology. Keeping total global CO2 emissions at the current level or better depends on the development and introduction of radical new steelmaking technologies with a lower carbon footprint. Many of the technologies that are being researched are associated with carbon capture and storage (CCS), which will require government and public support for implementation.

 


Recycling


 

A critical element in reducing the carbon emissions from the steel life cycle is to optimise the recycling of steel. Steel is an almost unique material in its capacity to be infinitely recycled without loss of properties or performance. This, in combination with a long history of significant efforts to increase recycling rates, has resulted in steel leading the recycling statistics, for example in cars and cans. Policies can provide further support for recycling by placing emphasis on recyclability and design for dismantling.

Cited: World Steel Association

Ashley G. // Editor SMC