UNSW SMaRT Centre green steel technology wins grant

green steel technology
UNSW SMaRT Centre's green steel technology in use at a Molycop furnace in Newcastle. Image Provided
Media Release

Newcastle-based mining consumables producer and steel maker, Molycop, is one step closer to implementing UNSW’s patented Polymer Injection Technology (PIT) following the award of a commercialisation grant from the Australian Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).

The $750,000 grant was announced today by the Acting Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Angus Taylor and will be utilised to implement this technology at Molycop’s Waratah Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steelmaking facility and support research to further develop the technology.  This innovative technology, also known as SMaRT@UNSW Green Steel technology, provides a responsible and sustainable recycling solution for end-of-life polymer materials such as tyres, conveyors belts and other rubber products. Industrial rubber boot manufacturer, Crawford Boots, will also partner with Molycop and UNSW to further enhance the recycling capability of this innovative technology.

The technology enables the recovery and reuse of the carbon and hydrogen from end-of-life rubber products in the EAF steelmaking process and the introduction of this technology simultaneously

  • reduces Molycop’s reliance on imported carbonaceous materials from China,
  • reduces the volume of problematic wastes going to landfill
  • improves energy efficiency of the EAF steelmaking process
  • further reduces the carbon intensity of Molycop’s steel products.

The total investment in this project is $2.6million which includes the AMGC grant, Molycop’s capital investment and the funding of ongoing R&D activities and trials to further increase this innovative technology‘s resource recovery and recycling capability.

Molycop already holds a market leading position in terms of low carbon emissions due to the inherent advantages of its EAF steelmaking process compared to most of its competitors. In 2019 Molycop entered a long-term power purchase agreement backed by offtake agreements with the Bomen Solar Farm and Sapphire Wind Farm, making Molycop one of Australia’s largest supporters of renewable energy generation. To further enhance the company’s resource recovery capability, in April 2021 Molycop acquired the JLW Services business. This business has now been rebranded Molycop 360.

Molycop Australia President, Michael Parker said “The implementation and further development of this green steel Polymer Injection Technology will further cement our position at the forefront of responsible and sustainable steelmaking. Molycop is committed to building the circular economy, recovering and reusing valuable materials from waste streams, reducing our carbon footprint and supporting customers’ sustainability goals”.

Director of the UNSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, who invented the technology, congratulated Molycop for its commitment to both implementing and further developing SMaRT@UNSW Green Steel technology as part of its sustainability leadership.

“The AMGC grant will enable Molycop to work towards fully operationalising our existing technology in its Newcastle facility,” Veena said. “And what’s also exciting is that we are collaborating in developing our Green Steel 2.0 technologies, which we are confident will at some point in the future allow us to be able to fully replace coking coal in EAF steel making with a range of waste materials,” Veena said. “Being able to release carbon and hydrogen from waste as a resource improves overall efficiency, and helps us move towards decarbonisation because hydrogen is present in waste.”

Molycop is also licensed to commercialise the technology internationally and is currently in discussions with international steelmaking companies.