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The future of manufacturing in Australia

Hundreds of thousands of used car tyres, plastic shopping bags and other common plastics are being turned into steel each year thanks to innovation by a UNSW scientist.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla

Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla has developed a new technique called polymer injection technology. Rubber partly replaces coke in electric arc furnaces, removing used tyres from our waste stream and cutting energy, costs and emissions associated with steelmaking.

OneSteel, Australia’s largest manufacturer of steel, licensed the technology from UNSW. The invention has the potential to divert millions of car tyres from landfill.

The Australian company says it has made steelmaking cheaper and more efficient by slashing its power use by millions of kilowatts per year, and cutting its use of coking coal by between 12 and 16 percent. The technology could massively cut power use and carbon emissions by the world’s 300 electric-arc furnace steelmaking plants, which account for 30 percent of crude-steel output globally.

Read more about Veena's work and the future of manufacturing on the UNSW Newsroom website.

Professor Sahajwalla heads the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology in the UNSW Science Faculty and is a Commissioner on the Australian Government's Climate Commission.