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Coffee grounds and hydrogen from waste can be used in Green Steel

Green Steel

The UNSW SMaRT Centre has published three scientific papers that show that coffee grounds and hydrogen from other wastes can be used as part of its patented Green Steel technology. 

In the latest research breakthroughs on SMaRT@UNSW’s Green Steel Polymer Injection Technology (PIT), industrial trials with partner Molycop have shown various wastes can be used to more sustainably make steel in electric arc furnaces. 

Wastes including plastic and coffee grounds now join waste rubber tyres as alternative sources of coke and coal as previously vital ingredients as carbon sources for steel making. They can also provide the element hydrogen, which vastly improves the efficiency and energy required for the manufacturing process.  

“Steelmakers have to meet the demands of quality requirements. The metal that gets produced doesn’t have any memory of whether the parent material that went in was coal or coffee,” UNSW SMaRT Centre director Professor Veena Sahajwalla said. 

“It gives you the kind of productivity requirements that any commercial operator will want. We’ve proven that it does the job at a comparable level, so we’re going to be at least sitting at an equivalent performance. If I’m going to be so bold and brave, I’d love to show that it can do even better.” 

Green SteelAccording to Sahajwalla, Australian steelmakers are the first to be able to take these technological advances and show that it can be done. 

“The ideal would be if we completely eliminate the coke,” Sahajwalla said. “If you have a combination of materials, you get a better outcome because you’re able to fine tune and customise green steel and take the kinds of materials that do the best job. 

“This is not a waste – it’s a really useful resource. It’s going to be an interesting shift towards valuing our waste resources and thinking about those inno­vative supply chains where recycling and manufacturing can be coupled together.” 

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