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

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Steel The Green Option

Stainless, Steel

steel pipes

The figures by APEAL, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging, indicate that in 2012, 2.7 million tonnes of steel packaging were recycled, corresponding to an average European rate of 74%. This reinforces the long-term trend for steel as the most recycled packaging material in Europe.

Steel packaging’s recycling rate has increased threefold over the last 20 years and steel remains the most recycled packaging material in Europe. Plastic, beverage cartons, aluminium and glass have rates of 35%, 39%, 68% and 70% respectively (source: APEAL).

Alexander Mohr, Secretary General of APEAL, commented: “While steel maintains its position as the most recycled packaging material in Europe, it is clear there is still some work to be done in order for the industry to hit its vision of 80% recycling rate by 2020.”

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, for the US, the overall recycling rate for steel in 2012 was 88%, with nearly 84 million tonnes of steel recycled. This included the more than 1.3 million tons of tin plate steel – the equivalent of 21 billion steel cans, which were recycled at a rate of 71%, the highest among packaging materials.

“The steel industry’s internationally-recognised energy efficiency, coupled with the recycling rate that is the highest of any material, proves our commitment to sustainability and resource conservation,” said Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO, American Iron and steel Institute.

Steel products naturally contribute to resource conservation through their lightweight potential, durability and recyclability. Steel is 100% recyclable. It can be infinitely recycled without loss of key properties, ensuring that the resources invested in its production are not lost and can be infinitely reused. Steel recycling accounts for significant raw material and energy savings.

Due to its magnetic properties, steel is easy to separate from waste streams, enabling high recovery rates.

Recovery rates differ from recycling rates. For example, about 85% of automobiles are recovered for recycling, and nearly 100% of the steel in these recovered vehicles is recycled. More than 1,400 kg of iron ore, 740 kg of coal, and 120 kg of limestone are saved for one tonne of steel scrap made into new steel.
Table 1: Post-consumer steel product recovery rates by sector – worldsteel estimates

Sector Recovery rate 2007 (%) Recovery 2050 (%) Life cycle in years
Construction 85% 90% 40 to 70
Automotive 85% 90% 7 to 15
Machinery 90% 95% 10 to 20
Electrical and domestic appliances 50% 65% 4 to 10
Weighted global average 83% 90% N/A

 

Steel is the most recycled industrial material in the world, with over 500 Mt recycled annually, including pre- and post-consumer scrap. Over 22 billion tonnes of steel has been recycled worldwide since 1900 owing to steel’s 100% recyclability.

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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

Are Dreams Becoming Reality?

Uncategorized

3D printer

Three-dimensional printers are expanding their repertoire every day. Now researchers around the world are using the technology to manufacture structural steel and metal components. Arup, headquartered in London, recently announced that it has developed a method to 3D print complex structural steel components for construction projects in a manner that reduces material cost and waste. Salomé Galjaard, a senior designer in Arup’s Amsterdam office, notes that the process can achieve the fluid shapes and complex geometries that architects often desire—and more structurally efficient components.

“It could be a great source of inspiration and could result in completely different building types,” says Salomé  “Your imagination is really the limitation with this.”

While Arup and the ESA are printing structural metal products, researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in Germany, are using 3D laser lithography to print micro-trusses and micro-shell structures from ceramic material, which is then coated by aluminum oxide for increased strength. These micro-scale products are less dense than water, yet stronger on a strength-to-weight ratio than some forms of steel.

“It has been a longstanding effort to create materials with low density but high strength,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After studying the composition of wood and bone, which generally have high tensile strength because of their porous composition, the team developed honeycomb-shaped microstructures that achieved the research objectives: They were lighter than 1,000 kilogram per cubic meter (62.4 pounds per cubic foot), or the density of water, and could withstand 280 megapascals (40,610 pounds per square inch), making it stronger than some forms of steel.

Although computer simulations had indicated that such materials could be created, the tools to develop them at the “scale of a human hair” only came to being recently, according to an article from The Conversation. But KIT researchers used a new laser system from Nanoscribe, a spin-off company of KIT, to make it a reality. Lead researcher Jens Bauer told The Conversation that “this is the first experimental proof that such materials can exist.” Nanoscribe’s system is currently limited to objects that are tens of micrometers in size. Despite additive manufacturing’s advances and potential for fabricating structural metal products, Arup’s Galjaard doesn’t expect the technology to replace traditional manufacturing soon.

“It’s fantastic and it’s beautiful, but it’s not the solution for everything.”

Citation: Architect – The Magazine of the American Institute of Architects

Ashley G. // Editor SMC