Opinion: In steel, the innovation economy is already here

29 April 2016

There’s much more at stake at Australian steelmaker Arrium than today’s jobs, writes Veena Sahajwalla in The Australian.

If Australia is to have a real chance of transitioning from a largely mining and commodities-based economy to an innovation-led ideas boom, a buoyant Australian steel industry is essential.

We know this because a long list of research breakthroughs at the University of NSW’s Centre of Sustainable Materials Research and Technology are the result of more than a decade of research collaboration with Arrium.

This is the kind of academic-industry partnership that, in the lead-up to a federal election, both sides of politics will be spruiking, rightfully, as the key to innovation and the future jobs and economic prosperity it promises. Our groundbreaking research into transforming complex, problematic waste streams — such as used tyres, plastics and automotive waste — into valuable res­ources has not relied on industry as merely a source of additional research funding but on access to industrial-scale furnaces and to invaluable industry knowledge, experience and expertise.

The research outcomes and applications have surpassed our loftiest expectations. We’ve ­realised that high-temperature reactions can be leveraged to revolutionise recycling science to reduce costs for today’s businesses and to create entirely new businesses and jobs while delivering environmental benefits.

Read the full story on the UNSW Newroom
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Photo by Tamara Dean