£35m invested to make the UK’s iron and steel sectors carbon neutral.
The UK’s steel and iron sectors are up for an environmental facelift thanks to a £35m research network designed to make our iron and steel industries carbon-neutral by 2040, an initiative that’ll see Swansea, Sheffield and Warwick universities collaborating with steel makers on a seven-year programme called ‘Sustain’. It’s being supported with £10m investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the remainder of the money comes from steel companies, trade bodies, and Wales’ Higher Education Funding Council.
The programme will explore the way steel is made and look at re-processing and recycling waste. It’ll think about how to make better use of scrap and harvest new energy sources, look into smart steel processing and find new ways to capture, sequester and re-use carbon emissions. It could even mean a boost for jobs in the industry as more people are ultimately needed to bring about the desired’responsible, innovative and creative future’.
Britain has already promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared with 1990 levels, and players in the iron and steel landscape are expected to do their bit like everyone else. It matters when industry was responsible for almost a third of Welsh carbon emissions in 2016, around half from the massive Port Talbot plant alone. Emissions for Port Talbot fell by 11% in 2016 but total carbon emissions in Wales fell by a mere 19% between 1990 and 2015 compared with 38% for the UK as a whole.
As an industry we’re already well on the way to cleaner, smarter steel manufacture. This marks another big positive step.
Amazing 3D powder – Printed steel parts prove super-strong
3D print has hit the military, and it’s predicted to change the way soldiers get spare parts. In the near future it looks like 3D printers will be able to provide fast, reliable, ultra-strong steel alloy parts from a special powder, melted using a laser. And it could prove one of the biggest changes in the way the forces operate for decades, totally revolutionising logistics.
While quickly printed, reliable 3D metal parts are still a way off, researchers are already getting excited about an alloy originally developed by the American Air Force. The metal is called AF96 and it comes in powder form. Using Powder Bed Fusion tech, the 3D printer laser melts the powder according to a predefined pattern in layers, repeating the process until the part is fully printed. The resulting parts are extraordinarily strong.
Popular surgical device exposes patients to dangerous levels of aluminium
As stockists of aluminium supplies we’re fascinated to find out about the hospitals that are suddenly withdrawing a popular surgical device thanks to worries it could expose patients to dangerous levels of aluminium. The gadget’s called an enFlow, and it’s used to warm blood and other fluids to body temperature before they’re given to people during surgery. But tests revealed fluids passed through the device sometimes contained ‘hundreds of times’ the recommended limit of aluminium.
Both the Royal Manchester children’s hospital and Salford Royal have suspended the device over concerns that premature babies and young children could be at risk of neurological damage from such high levels of aluminium. Many British hospitals use the gadget, and it’s expected that more will follow suit and suspend it for now. The regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, is investigating.
EnFlow is made in the USA and is used thousands of times a day in the UK. It has been approved for clinical use here and in the USA for more than 10 years. But when doctors at a hospital in Germany trialling the device noticed the element changing colour after a few hours of use, they became suspicious there was a chemical reaction going on. Concentrations of aluminium reached 7,000 micrograms per litre or so, literally hundreds of times more than the US’ safe limit of 25 micrograms per litre.
On the bright side it looks like only some fluids react with the element to release aluminium. A simple saline solution, for example, doesn’t have the same effect.
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