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Workshop: Secondary aluminum and steel

The recovery and reuse of metallic materials is a key area of work to improve the sustainability of the metal-mechanic industry and its client sectors. With the focus put on the recycling of steel and aluminum, the Basque Circular Summit, held at the end of November, featured, among other things, a round table in which various strategic aspects were discussed to advance in this challenge. PhD. Garikoitz Artola, general director of AZTERLAN, represented the Metallurgy Research Centre in this debate, accompanied by representatives of industrial companies that manufacture materials and equipment, as well as other leading innovation agents in the Basque Country.

Undoubtedly, the recovery and reuse of metallic materials once the useful life in service of the components has ended is a necessary strategy to improve the environmental sustainability and economic viability of the production of steel and aluminum, as well as of theri client sectors.

In the current scenario of growing demand for secondary metallic materials, and in which the market share of these with respect to the primary materials (raw materials) is already significantly higher while it continues to grow, the ability to separate and classify said metallic waste at an industrial level and with the highest degree of purity possible is one of the biggest challenges faced by this industry. This is also the main field of work towards which most of the new technological developments and research efforts are oriented.

However, there are also significant complementary strategies that can facilitate the incorporation of secondary steel and aluminum, such as:

  • The development and application of methodologies and processes based on advanced metallurgical knowledge in order to achieve specific mechanical properties in materials (beyond chemical composition). Aspects such as the control of the cooling speed, the application of specific heat treatments, etc. can offer metallic structures that respond to the operation and safety requirements of the components.
  • Find new application paths for recovered materials without the need to adjust their composition. Fusion is not the only way to develop secondary materials. The use of alternative recovery routes would also mean less economically and environmentally costly recovery work.
  • Reconsideration of the conception process of components, basing their design on the data/properties offered by recovered alloys.
  • Opening of the range of alloys (with different levels of impurities) applicable in the development of different components, as long as it is possible to ensure their correct performance with all the security guarantees.
  • Making compensatory metallurgy adjustments to counter the negative influences of various trace elements..

These and many other topics were discussed at the round table on “Secondary steel and aluminum” held within the Basque Circular Summit by representatives of leading companies and centers in the Basque Country such as ArcelorMittal, GHI Smart Furnaces, Fundación Inatec I+D and the member centers of BRTA AZTERLAN, Tecnalia and Tekniker.

Garikoitz Artola, PhD
Garikoitz Artola, PhD.

Director of Forming Technologies


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