Step change material efficiency for steel and aluminium.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Achieving the carbon target for steel and aluminium requires an industry-wide transformation which will result in new business models and new metal flows. The proposal aims to identify credible scenarios for achieving the target, to specify the barriers to achieving them, and to define the economic and policy measures required to drive change. In parallel, the proposal aims to deliver basic technology research that will allow more options for a future materially efficient steel and aluminium economy.It is widely agreed that a cut of at least 60% in global greenhouse gas emissions will be required by 2050 to limit the adverse effects of climate change. Steel and aluminium are responsible for 8% of global energy related emissions. Industry efforts to date have focused on reducing energy in primary production, and recycling metal by melting and re-casting. However, demand for both steel and aluminium is forecast to double, recycling rates are already around 60-70% and the most optimistic projections for energy efficiency improvements deliver only 30% reduction per unit output of material. Efficiency improvements alone are not sufficient, but the 2050 target can be achieved if, in addition to existing measures, energy used in converting ingots to products is halved, the volume of metal used in each application is reduced, and a substantial fraction of metal is re-used without melting. In pursuing this strategy, this proposal is aligned with the EPSRC strategic theme on energy demand reduction.The need for clarity about the physical implications of responding to the carbon target has become a major priority in the metal producing and using industry. Without the work described in this proposal, it is not possible for the government, industry and the public to understand and negotiate the choices they must collectively make in order to meet the carbon target in this sector. Accordingly, this proposal comes with support of 2 million in committed effort from 20 global companies, all with operations in the UK. The business activities of the consortium span primary metal production, conventional recycling, equipment manufacture, road transport, construction, aerospace, packaging and knowledge transfer.The work of the fellowship will be split between business analysis and technology innovation themes. The business analysis theme will identify future scenarios, barriers and a roadmap for meeting the target. This work will include specific analysis of future metal flows, application of a global economic model and the analysis of policy measures. The technology innovation theme aims to optimize the requirements for metal use through novel manufacturing process design, to increase material and energy efficiency in forming and finishing, and to develop solid-state closed-loop recycling for metals. Both themes will be developed in collaboration with the consortium, and will also draw on an international scientific panel and a cross-disciplinary advisory panel in Cambridge.The work will lead to two major reports for wide distribution, direct dissemination into the partner companies, training courses, technology assessments and physical demonstrations of the technology innovations. These will include a demonstration for public engagement. The results of the work on steel and aluminium will be used to stimulate interest among business leaders in other sectors, and will form the basis for a longer term Centre for Low Carbon Materials Processing in Cambridge.The Leadership Fellowship offers a unique and timely opportunity to undertake the basic research required to drive a step-change in material efficiency, by demonstrating that a different flow of metal through the global economy is technically and economically possible, and by inspiring and informing those who can influence change.

Publications


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Allwood J (2011) Material efficiency: A white paper in Resources, Conservation and Recycling

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Allwood JM (2013) Transitions to material efficiency in the UK steel economy. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Allwood JM (2013) Material efficiency: providing material services with less material production. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Allwood JM (2010) Options for achieving a 50% cut in industrial carbon emissions by 2050. in Environmental science & technology


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Allwood, J.M. (2014) Handbook of Recycling




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Bajželj B (2013) Designing climate change mitigation plans that add up. in Environmental science & technology

 
Description The basis of the proposal for this grant was a preliminary analysis that showed that it would be impossible to achieve significant emissions reductions in industry by energy efficiency - because the energy intensive materials industries are already so efficient - so instead, emissions reduction requires 'material efficiency' - living well with less new production of materials.

In the project we confirmed this result in detail, and then with our consortium of 20 partner industries spanning the whole supply chains of steel and aluminium production and use, we identified six key technical strategies for living well with much less new material production. Our work on these strategies, fleshed out in detail with our partners, was written up initially in a series of industrially focused reports, and then in our popular-science book, "Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open."

Having written the book based on the first half of our five-year project, the individual PhD students then pursued particular opportunities that arose from our general exploration. The outcomes of their work include:
- two patent applications - one for rolling optimised "fish-belly" steel beams to provide the same service with a third less steel, and one for casting variable width aluminium strip, aiming to reduce the amount of scrap created by the car industry - who currently scrap 40% of all sheet metal they buy.
- a scenario model for future emissions in the steel industry, which has been widely accepted, the results of which are used by World Steel Association in their annual 'Sustainability Reports' and based on which I made a film with their chief executive which has been shown to the CEOs of companies owning more than 80% of the world's steel capacity.
- we've shown that current practice in structural design in the UK leads to gross over-specification of steel, because labour in the UK is expensive while steel is cheap, so it simply isn't economically rational to design buildings well. However, if clients asked for efficient design, or policy required it, we could potentially build commercial buildings with half the mass of steel, and not notice the difference.
- we've shown how aluminium can be recycled in solid state, and extended a previous theory that explains how this bond is created.
- we've demonstrated that even if a very high carbon price were imposed, it would create little incentive for adopting material efficiency practices, because labour taxes would still be greater than energy tax.
Exploitation Route The UK INDEMAND Centre is aiming to take the findings forwards into implementation. Roughly speaking, the WellMet2050 project showed what could be done, and the scale required to meet our nationally committed emissions mitigation targets. Now in the UK INDEMAND Centre, we're exploring the conditions which would bring about the motivation to pursue these options. A priority for us now is to work with the construction sector in particular - they purchase more material than any other sector, so account for the 'embedded emissions' of a half of all industrial production - and therefore have the most opportunity to deploy material efficiency in practice. However, as our work on the Learning legacy at the 2012 Olympics shows, material efficiency can be brought about immediately, as soon as the client requests it - so we're trying to find lead-users across many sectors who will demonstrate the opportunity in practice.
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
URL http://www.withbotheyesopen.com
 
Description I think that this project - which we called "WellMet2050" - made a significant change in both UK and international perceptions about emissions mitigation in industry: where previously industrial mitigation was focused on energy efficiency, our work has been widely picked up in providing a solid body of evidence both that we have to pursue material efficiency, and in recognising the significant technical opportunities by which it might be brought about. This has been manifest in citations, invited speeches, media interest, the shaping of calls for future research funding both in the UK and wider, in industrial debate, in the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report, and in the success of my bid to lead one (the largest) of the six new 'End Use Energy Demand" research centres funded by the RCUK Energy Programme and announced in the UK Government's Energy Efficiency Strategy in Nov 2012. Our book has nearly sold out its first 5000 copies, and we're preparing a revised edition for release in 2015 - but having chosen to give it away for free on the website www.withbotheyesopen.com - we know that >20,000 people have read it online - and it has been picked up widely in both industry and policy. The UK INDEMAND Centre (www.ukindemand.ac.uk) - our EUED Centre - is entirely focused on the outcomes of this work, but now in collaboration with colleagues from Bath, Leeds and Nottingham Trent Universities, as we look at the opportunities to bring our proposed technical strategies into practice - through industry, policy and behavioural change. At a personal level, I'm extremely grateful to EPSRC for the life-changing benefit of this Leadership Fellowship. It has given me a distinct identity and place in the research landscape, allowed me to pursue an area which ignites my strongest personal motivation, and as a happy by-product of the work funded by this grant, I was promoted to a Professorship in Cambridge from 1st October 2014. My only problem now is the wealth of opportunity that has been created by this work!
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services
 
Description Response to call for evidence for UK Waste Policy Review
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Tailor blank casting 
Organisation Siemens AG
Department Siemens VAI Metals Technologies
Country Austria, Republic of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Support for experimental work at Brunel University
Collaborator Contribution Financial and logistical
Impact Support for experimental work at Brunel University
Start Year 2011
 
Title Elongate beam and method for manufacturing elongate beam 
Description A method to form variable section I-beams by new control strategies with existing equipment used in hot rolling of sections. 
IP Reference GB1015154 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2010
Licensed No
Impact It's led to a lot of discussion, but the construction industry at present has no appetite for variable section beams, so there is no incentive yet for the steel industry to develop the process.
 
Description CDT lecture on Energy and the Foreseer Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact CDT lecture Energy and the Foreseer project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.foreseer.group.cam.ac.uk/foreseer-tool/
 
Description During the period of this grant I gave 70 high profile speeches on the work funded by EPSRC - but because Research Fish is so arduous to manipulate, I'm not prepared to enter them all individually. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact With average audiences of 200-300 this level of speech making has reached very wide audiences. I believe it has had a major effect in raising awareness of the idea of 'Material Efficiency.'

The Chairman of Bao Steel - the world's second largest steel company - gave a major speech in China holding up a copy of the book we wrote within this work, and said "this is the future of the steel industry."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013
URL https://royalsociety.org/events/2012/sustainable-materials/
 
Description ERP Plenary event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact participation in ERP plenary activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description ERP annual dinner, RAE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact presentation at ERP annual dinner
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description RCUK Energy Strategy meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation to RCUK Energy Strategy Group on research work/findings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description RCUK Energy Strategy panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact RCUK Energy Strategy panel discussion participation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Seminar on Climate Change and Demand Reduction 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact speech at the Seminar on Climate Change & Demand Reduction
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description The International Scientific Conference "Our Common Future under Climate Change" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at The International Scientific Conference "Our Common Future under Climate Change"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Water energy workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact gave speech at the Water Energy workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description WholeSEM annual conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation at WholeSEM annual conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description WholeSEM integration away days 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact working seminar for integration days, speech and chairing meetings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016