Theme details

Read below more details about the different themes, and the contact information to express your interest.

I: System change

The roles of the transversal topics in the program is described below. An interdisciplinary group of experts will follow the progress of these transversal topics across the different primary themes.

  • Modelling and digitalization: This topic includes modelling of metallurgical processes in the production route, processing route and microstructure development, the combination of physics-based models with Artificial Intelligence techniques and the utilisation of these models for the implementation of digital twins.
  • Infrastructure and characterisation: New equipment and infrastructure will be needed at different levels, particularly, demonstration equipment, equipment for advanced sampling on primary processing, electrification of equipment and equipment for the characterisation of tramp elements.
  • Circularity: This topic ensures the correlation among the different themes, and includes the continuous assessment of the changes in the steel life cycle due to the new developed technologies and strategies and their impact on circularity. This also includes the study of circular economy business models and of the implications of the different models for stakeholders along the value chain.
  • Systems and environment: Changes to the way steel is produced, transported, used and recycled will impact the demand of energy (e.g., hydrogen, clean electricity, transport fuel) and materials (e.g., water, critical alloy elements) not only of the steel value chain but also of other systems (e.g., energy, transport, construction) at local, national and international level. To develop thoroughly sustainable steel systems, it is thus necessary to identify, assess and monitor the impacts so that potential hotspots can be identified and addressed early on, and synergies can be exploited.
  • Governance and social aspects: This topic involves understanding of the socio-technical requirements that need to be in place to speed and implement changes (e.g., institutional, policy, regulatory, market). This includes communication plans, social acceptance and embedding of industry in the community as well as education in new steel technologies at various education levels, thereby guaranteeing future human capital.

For more information: Mar Pérez-Fortes (

II: Production

Future clean production of steel requires two critical breakthroughs:

  1. Hydrogen-based ironmaking, in which the “waste gas” is water instead of CO2. Although proven at low-scale level, associated technologies are immature. A strong impulse is needed from fundamental understanding to industrial upscaling in order to fulfil this ambition.
  2. Increased intake of scrap in steelmaking. A key bottleneck is the presence of unwanted elements in scrap, which strongly deteriorates the quality of steel products, therefore reducing its potential market deployment. Therefore, technologies must be developed that are able to effectively remove, detect and control tramp elements from scrap.

For more information: Tim Peeters (

III: Processing

Steel processing refers to the step in which the primary steel is thermo-mechanically treated to have the final microstructure (which controls steel properties such as strength and ductility) and final shape. The microstructure of steel depends on chemical composition and previous thermal history primary processing). This means that changes in chemical composition due to a higher scrap intake, and on primary processing due to changes on the iron and steelmaking technologies, have profound effects on the microstructure. Moreover, steel processing companies are investing significant efforts on the electrification of their equipment. This implies modifications on temperatures, heating and cooling rates, which also have effects on the microstructures. In order to reduce the impact of these changes on the quality of steel products, the following two tasks are essential in this programme:

  1. New thermo-mechanical routes must be defined to maintain the high quality of the steel parts, considering changes in primary production and processing equipment, as well as a higher scrap intake. Thanks to our knowledge on steel, these new processing routes mostly lead to improved and innovative products.
  2. This is also an opportunity to design new alloy compositions made of non-critical alloying elements. Moreover, new strategies for the implementation of tramp elements in the composition will be evaluated, so these tramp elements stop being harmful.

Considering the existing broad spectrum of steel grades for different applications, these tasks imply extensive fundamental and applied research and is of interest to a large number of industries.

For more information: Maria Santofimia Navarro (

IV: Use

Steel is the most used metal in the world. The range of application is enormous, from screws to skyscrapers. Mostly, steel is used in critical applications, such as keeping humans safe in cars with high-strength steel pillars, or massive bearings in wind turbines. It is crucial to preserve the high quality of these steel parts, because they are not replaceable by any other kind of material. Changes on the scrap intake, primary production and secondary production will have an effect also on resulting mechanical properties of the steels, and therefore on the performance of these products. This is important not only for the industries involved in the production of these products (cars, wind turbines…) but it also affects human’s safety. In order to preserve the performance of steel in this range of applications, it is essential to perform the following actions.

  1. Strategies considered in the previous theme to reduce the impact and presence of tramp elements in the steels will be evaluated through the analysis of mechanical properties.
  2. Effects on performance properties of relevance for the involved user industries will be investigated, such as corrosion fatigue, fracture and wear.

Results of these investigations will lead not only to a better control of steel properties considering the coming production changes, but also to improved steel products.

For more information: Jan Post  (

V: Recovery

Increasing the share of used materials in the steel production is not only a technological challenge in steelmaking, but also in the scrap supply. Three key challenges need to be addressed:

  1. Design of integrated supply chains that allow closing material loops to drive improvements in raw material self-sufficiency and in resource ownership retention.
  2. Design for re-use strategies. In this area, consumer and company behaviours also need to be changed in such a way that recycling is done more consciously and becomes more economically attractive.
  3. Technologies for element detection and upgrading of scrap need to be in place.

For more information: Frank Schrama (

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