The Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the University of New South Wales works with industry and Government to develop environmental solutions for waste challenges.

And one of those partners – Molycorp – has just secured a $750,000 federal government grant from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to help further commercialise the Centre’s green steel technology that uses waste rubber as an alternative to coking coal in steel making.

The patented Polymer Injection Technology (PIT) will be implemented at Molycop’s Waratah Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steelmaking facility.

Replacing coking coal with waste materials

“The AMGC grant will enable Molycop to work towards fully operationalising our existing technology in its Newcastle facility,” UNSW SMaRT Centre director Professor Veena Sahajwalla – who invented the technology – 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.

“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.”

Recycling solution for polymer materials

Essentially, the tech provides a responsible and sustainable recycling solution for end-of-life polymer materials such as tyres, conveyors belts and other rubber products.

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; and
  • Further reduces the carbon intensity of Molycop’s steel products.

Plus, industrial rubber boot manufacturer, Crawford Boots, will also partner with Molycop and UNSW to further enhance the recycling capability.

Plans to commercialise tech globally

Molycop Australia resident Michael Parker said the implementation and further development of this green steel PIT 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,” he said.

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