Task 5: Intelligent Steelmaking

SUSTAIN Task 5 - Intelligent Steelmaking

Dr Michael Auinger, Dr Richard Thackray, Dr Aurash Karimi, Dr Uchenna Kesieme

Many existing process models for steel production do not allow for process alignment and are too complex for meaningful real-time predictive use.

The primary aim of Task 5 is to take a different view on steel production in its entirety by not seeking to improve product qualities in one step alone but by focusing on decreasing energy usage and building links over the entire process chain.

This will be achieved by developing and optimising process-level models supported by experimental verification, analysing process data, and benchmarking current process routes to quantitatively assess how efficiently industry currently uses energy and materials.


The project officially began in October 2020. The initial task aims haven’t changed significantly, although, during discussions with industry, one or two extra ideas and opportunities arose.

For example, a focus on the life cycle of refractory materials wasn’t originally in the plans, but after discussions with industrial partners, it was added to the list of potential investigations.

Another change was an increased focus on the use of methods from artificial intelligence such as machine learning for regression, as opposed to improving physics-based modelling approaches.

Key findings

Collection and analysis of steelmaking data to allow material and energy efficiencies to be calculated. Methodologies are being developed/adapted to be able to turn these data into meaningful conclusions and suggestions for efficiency gains.

Development of a hybrid model to combine the accuracy of physics-based simulations with the speed of machine learning methods. This forms a template to be used for many process simulations across the entire steel manufacturing route.

Industrial applications

This methodology can be used to compare the resource efficiency of various individual components in a particular process step and thus identify overall potential efficiency gains – for example, a decrease in raw material input, an increase in yield and the recovery of by-products.

With the model being a template for the steel industry, it allows for synergies and knowledge transfer between processes. The model can also, once verified with specific process data, be used as a platform for the process behaviour under worst-case scenarios. This could become a digital testing ground to develop guidelines for a “what-if scenario” in relation to equipment failures.

Coming up

Completion of the material and resource efficiency data analysis and implementation of suitable methodologies.

Seek funding to widen the applicability of the model for processes across the wider steel production route.

The effects of electrification

The work being carried out at Sheffield as part of this task is in conjunction with Liberty Steel, so the findings are of course directly relevant to electric steelmakers.

One of the planned EngD projects associated with this task is going to look at the increased use of scrap within BF/BOS steelmaking, and how these changes might affect the product design for an electric steelmaking route compared with an integrated route and what would be required for the design of steel products to make the re-use, recovery and recycling of them at end of life much easier in terms of exploitation in the steelmaking processes.

The modelling template developed at Warwick is expected to become a template for many steel-related processes, ranging from predicting the temperature distribution in blast furnace stoves to optimising the energy use vs. oxidation losses in a reheat furnace.

Electrification of the steel production in this framework becomes another process that is very welcome to trigger further improvements on the physics part of the general modelling template with knowledge, specific to electric arc furnaces and resistive/inductive heating techniques.

Further reading
  1. Legkovskis, M., Thomas, P. J., & Auinger, M. (2022). Uncertainty Quantification of Time-Dependent Quantities in a System with Adjustable Level of Smoothness. Journal of Verification, Validation and Uncertainty Quantification, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4053161
  2. SenGupta, A., Santillana, B., Sridhar, S., & Auinger, M. (2021). A Multiscale-Based Approach to Understand Dendrite Deflection in Continuously Cast Steel Slab Samples. Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science, 52(8), 3413–3422. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11661-021-06313-6

About the author

Latest articles

Featured article
  • Women with Metal

    Women with Metal

    It’s been 7 weeks since the first Women with Metal event and the 2nd edition of this sell out conference has already been booked top take place on 29 October 2024. Kirsty is increasing the size and scale of the event and has booked a hall at the ICC Birmingham for year 2 with the…

    Read article →

  • Organized Crime Drives Metal Theft Epidemic: UK Economy Loses Half a Billion Annually.

    Organized Crime Drives Metal Theft Epidemic: UK Economy Loses Half a Billion Annually.

    A newly released report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Metal, Stone, and Heritage reveals that metal theft orchestrated by organized crime groups is costing the UK economy a staggering half a billion pounds each year. The comprehensive study, titled “Tackling Metal Theft,” exposes a rising trend in metal-related crimes since 2019, amounting to a…

    Read article →

  • Van Leeuwen: The Energy Project

    Van Leeuwen: The Energy Project

    In December 2021 Jill Clements told me about the Energy Project that had been signed off by Van Leeuwen UK. Jill was animated when talking about the news, and excitedly explained the potential that this opened up to her and the team. “I am very excited about it. I am really happy that finally we…

    Read article →

  • Drywall Steel Sections Secures £9.5 Million WMCA Investment

    Drywall Steel Sections Secures £9.5 Million WMCA Investment

    £13 million was all it took for a family run manufacturing business to make a monumental transformation in the historic heart of the steel industry! Drywall Steel Sections Ltd are on the move after securing loan funding of £9.5 million from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). Their Cradley Heath site was no longer fit…

    Read article →

  • The NASS Golf day & Summer Gathering 2023

    The NASS Golf day & Summer Gathering 2023

    On the 29th of June, Matt Tipper, Stewart Andrews and I had a swing of the clubs at Priory Breadsall in Derby. A week later, on the 6th of July, I attended the Summer Gathering in central Birmingham. Two entirely different events, seven days apart, both hosted by The National Association of Steel Service Centres…

    Read article →

  • The Stainless Steel Industry Meets at the BSSA Annual Conference & Dinner

    The Stainless Steel Industry Meets at the BSSA Annual Conference & Dinner

    The British Stainless Steel Association (BSSA) met at The Grand Hotel in Birmingham in May 2023 for their annual conference and dinner. Having attended the last four BSSA annual conferences and this year’s Food and Beverage Industry event (link to article), it was great to catch up with familiar faces from the industry and new…

    Read article →

  • Q2 Review: Analysing The Recruitment Landscape

    Q2 Review: Analysing The Recruitment Landscape

    Large corporate companies are facing challenges attracting new talent and retaining skilled staff especially when their salary structures, work flexibility and staff benefits are outdated compared to smaller, more agile SMEs. Smaller companies can have the advantage of being able to offer more flexibility and quicker decision-making, meaning they’re a more appealing option for certain…

    Read article →

  • How to use LinkedIn for YOUR Metal Business.

    How to use LinkedIn for YOUR Metal Business.

    The below presentation was given at the National Association of Steel Service Centres (NASS) 2023 Summer Gathering. In 12 days I’ll have been using LinkedIn for 12 years! On the day I joined I thought: “Wow! This business Facebook thingy is incredible! Everyone I want to do business with is right here, this will be…

    Read article →

  • Leading the Charge: Steel Dynamics in the Nuclear Industry

    Leading the Charge: Steel Dynamics in the Nuclear Industry

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently unveiled the Great British Nuclear initiative, marking a significant milestone in the UK’s pursuit of a sustainable energy future. With nuclear power playing a crucialrole in achieving net-zero emissions and reducing greenhouse gases, this announcement signals a remarkable leap forward in the nation’s commitment to clean and reliable energy sources.…

    Read article →

  • Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. Acquires Ferrari Stainless & Alloys.

    Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. Acquires Ferrari Stainless & Alloys.

    Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. Acquires Ferrari Stainless & Alloys Ltd. Launching P&P Non Ferrous: A Gateway to Enhanced Customer Services and Expansion Down South In a strategic move to bolster its position in the industry, Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. proudly announces the successful acquisition of Ferrari Stainless & Alloys Ltd. in Wimborne. This transformative development…

    Read article →

  • Sustainability is key to modern manufacturing

    Sustainability is key to modern manufacturing

    During my time supplying specialist metals into the manufacturing sector, I have noticed several things regarding the supply chain local to me in South Yorkshire. 1 Large Manufacturing companies often have difficult onboarding processes.  This makes it difficult for smaller SMES or new market entrants to be able to supply them. 2 Manufacturing companies are…

    Read article →

  • Lasers: The Tesla of Tooling

    Lasers: The Tesla of Tooling

    Welcome back, I’m LaserEd, and I work with lasers. I’ll be laser-educating for The Metal Magazine and I hope it results in more metal parts being lasered! First of all, I haven’t had an accident after writing my last article about Laser Safety. I have been busy researching. Although it is time consuming, I love…

    Read article →

  • Implementing QMS Certifications for Small Businesses and Start-Up Companies

    Implementing QMS Certifications for Small Businesses and Start-Up Companies

    Welcome to the fourth and final instalment of this short series on Quality Management System certification for small businesses and start-up companies. In this 4 part series I have been explaining exactly what third-party certification involves, and how you can level up your business through this process. The standard we are focussing on is ISO9001:2015, as…

    Read article →

Get notified when we publish new articles!

Want to feature in the next edition?