Australian Innovation Challenge winner could change steelmaking forever

12 December 2012

Professor Veena Sahajwalla and the SMaRT Centre have taken out this year’s Australian Innovation Challenge for their invention of ‘green steel’

Using recycled rubber to revolutionise steel-making earned Sydney engineer Veena Sahajwalla the top prize at The Australian Innovation Challenge awards in Sydney last night.

The technology – which was developed at UNSW – has already prevented more than 1.4 million tyres from becoming landfill, with the rubber, along with recycled plastic containers, partly replacing coke in generating power for the production of steel.

Dr Sahajwalla, who studied in India before completing a PhD at the University of Michigan, said the principles underlying her polymer injection technology to create an environmentally friendly steel industry could also be applied to other industries. The technology could cut power consumption by millions of kilowatt hours a year.

A passionate recycler, she was honoured for her patented “green steel” process, in which old rubber tyres and plastic are used to replace some of the coke in the electric arc furnaces, participating in chemical reactions in the production of steel.

Read on in The Australian

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