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20 Dec 2023

Imperial College London and Tata Steel have created a partnership to focus on the development of new steel manufacturing processes

Imperial College London and Tata Steel have created a partnership to focus on the development of new steel manufacturing processes

Imperial College London and multinational steel manufacturer Tata Steel recently announced that they will be beginning a new project together, this will involve constructing a new centre which will provide them with the space to focus on the decarbonisation of the fuel industry. The companies have expressed their drive towards finding a way to decarbonise the fuel industry and have decided to approach the issue from the point of the manufacturing process.

The space which the companies will construct will be The Centre for Innovation in Sustainable Design and Manufacturing, and it will allow the two companies the chance to research, experiment and trial new techniques. The overall aim of this partnership and new centre, will be to create and develop a way in which the manufacturing process for steel can become decarbonised. Steel production is one of the highest emitting production processes, so therefore, developing a manufacturing process which decarbonises that process as much as possible, would be a breakthrough that would be extremely beneficial to the steel industry and to the environment.

The centre itself will be worth £10 million and with this state-of-the-art facility behind it, the project aims to be able to develop products for the automotive and clean energy industries. These new products will involve new kinds of steel, other new materials and a combination of these two options, all of which will be created with the goal of decarbonising the steel industry. The result of these new materials and combinations, will be lighter and stronger types of steel and will also be steel that can foster more energy-efficient and affordable vehicles, plus clean energy generation, as lots of the steel created will be combined with other material such as composites.

The new centre, plus the research and work which will be done by Imperial College, highlights how important and significant this project is, as Tata Steel will benefit hugely, as will the steel industry and the environment. Imperial academics will provide expertise both in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and across the university. Imperial researchers will focus on developing new technologies and bringing these technologies into the early stages of readiness. The Imperial team will do this through utilising their research partnerships with industries, where they will translate academic expertise into real and practical solutions, which can be used on real-world issues, such as sustainability. Alongside the research that Imperial College will provide, the centre will have an accelerator programme included in it, which will support the rapid transfer of new insights into the industry. Furthermore, once sufficient research has been carried out and a solution has been created, through the partnership, Tata Steel will have easy access to the project and will be able to start work on the product’s development and commercialisation. On top of this, the project will be supported by the Imperial-wide Transition to Zero Pollution initiative, which accurately portrays just how committed to helping the environment Imperial is. This value is also showcased in their pledge, which states that Imperial will use their power to build and facilitate partnerships across the world that drive the transition to net-zero pollution.

Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) at Imperial College London and co-chair of the Governing Council of the Centre, Professor Mary Ryan, commented, “Drawing on Imperial and Tata Steel’s combined expertise, this new Centre will work to reduce the environmental impact in steel production and in key sectors that use steel, like the clean energy sector.  

“To create a zero-pollution future, it’s vital that we prioritise systematic transformation of industrial systems. By doing this, the new Centre will contribute to the creation of a high tech and economically successful steel industry, both in the UK and across the world.” 

V. Narendran, CEO & MD, Tata Steel, said: “The Centre for Innovation is a part of Tata Steel’s larger endeavour to build stronger industry-academia partnerships for driving technological advancement and creating strategic advantages. The Centre at Imperial provides a strong academic and research platform with an excellent talent pool. Our goal is to synergise research excellence with industry experience to create cutting-edge technology solutions for a greener future. This initiative reaffirms Tata Steel's unwavering commitment to creating a knowledge-intensive organisation.”

Dr Debashish Bhattacharjee, Vice President, Technology and R&D, Tata Steel, said: “The Centre at Imperial will focus on design and development of sustainable solutions. Sustainability cannot be an after-thought, rather needs to be embedded into the production process and materials design. Tata Steel is committed to pioneering disruptive technologies through active collaboration and I look forward to engaging with an acclaimed academic institution like Imperial on the journey towards technology leadership and sustainable business growth.” 

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