Uni in the Brewery showcases innovations in steel

University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers will showcase pioneering projects being undertaken at the ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Manufacturing at a Uni in the Brewery public talk on Wednesday 22 August.

Building on UOW and BlueScope’s long-standing history of research collaboration, the Steel Research Hub brings together universities and industry to deliver innovations in steel making and steel products.

Researchers Dr Emma Heffernan, Ms Dan Yang, and Dr Andrew Johnstone will give presentations on projects that are very different, but which have the potential to deliver significant benefits to the Australian steel industry.

Dr Heffernan will share her insights on a cutting-edge approach to framework for mid-rise buildings that delivers apartments that are cheaper, quicker to build, and more environmentally friendly.

“The project is exploring the potential for using loadbearing cold-formed steel in mid-rise apartment buildings,” Dr Heffernan said.

“Loadbearing cold-formed steel is a construction framing material manufactured from cold-rolled and metallic coated steel coil. The panels, manufactured to order in a factory then transported to site, are light enough to be carried by two construction workers and can be assembled rapidly without the need for large cranes.

“This has the potential to reduce the amount of people and activities on site; improve the safety of workers; improve quality control; and reduce the likelihood of construction delay due to bad weather and other causes.”

Ms Yang will discuss new anti-microbial coatings for steel surfaces that could radically improve the resistance of BlueScope’s COLORBOND products to “fouling” by fungal colonies, offering a key durability benefit over competitor products.

“Existing antifouling technologies rely on the incorporation of biocidal compounds, so there are ongoing concerns over the development of biocide resistant pathogenic organisms,” Ms Yang said.

Instead of directly targeting microorganisms, the researchers are developing a coating that prevents them attaching to a surface in the first place.

“Our research focus is on an environmentally friendly coating that can resist attack from a range of microbes,” Ms Yang said.

“It has demonstrated significant resistance against various proteins, bacterial and fungal spores. As a benign coating, it is economically viable, scalable, and can be easily incorporated into existing or next-generation fabrication processes.”

Dr Johnstone will highlight how his team’s collaborative research on the jet-stripping process on the metallic coating line may provide new insights for manufacturing superior coated steel products, more cost-effectively.

Metallic alloy coating is applied by passing a steel strip through a molten alloy bath, such as in hot-dip galvanising; then, as it passes out of the bath, a pair of air jets wipes away the excess coating material to achieve the desired coating thickness.

While the process sounds simple, the number of variables involved makes it a considerable challenge for steelmakers in delivering high-quality coated products that meet product specifications and requirements.

The joint UOW-BlueScope-University of Queensland research team has developed a mathematical model that enables the prediction of the coating response under different operating conditions.

“This represents a key modelling tool for BlueScope operational personnel to produce quality coatings,” Dr Johnstone said.

“By closely working within a collaborative team comprised of industry, and researchers from multidisciplinary backgrounds, we can approach the challenges from multiple angles and provide skills that BlueScope does not currently have in-house, such as advanced modelling and experimental techniques.”

When: 5.30pm – 7pm, Wednesday 22 August 2018

Where: Illawarra Brewing Co., Montague St, North Wollongong


The Steel Research Hub is one of the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Research hubs, jointly funded with BlueScope and supported by five other industry partners. It is an initiative that began in 2015, with $13.5 million cash and $12 million in-kind contributions over five years.

The Hub’s vision is to bring together teams of internationally recognised research and industry talent that deliver innovative solutions and breakthrough technologies in manufacturing and product development, helping to ensure sustainable growth in the Australian steel industry.

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