From April 2015 the Norwegian metallurgical industry will stand together behind the name SFI Metal Production. SFI is an abbreviation for the Norwegian name of the Centre for Research-Based Innovation (Senter for Forskningsdrevet Innovasjon) and is a programme run by the Research Council of Norway. The member companies include manufacturers of ferroalloys, aluminum and titanium, academic institutions and the supply industry.
The project is scheduled to run for eight years and has a total budget of NOK 247 million. NOK 102 million has been contributed by the industry, NOK 96 million has been contributed by the Research Council of Norway and NOK 50 million has been contributed by academic institutions. The plan is to provide 15 new PhD studies in disciplines that fall within the project’s research fields.
Three main goals
- Sustainable innovation: To provide industry in Norway with the best possible conditions for developing new, sustain- able products and greener and more energy and cost-effective production processes.
- World leading research: To combine resources for implementing, testing and experimenting in industrial pilots to form the basis for ground-breaking global projects.
- Industrial growth: To create the foundations for quicker implementation of technological breakthroughs and ensure a more uniform utilization of these in a total production run. This will produce competitive advantages that will provide a basis for growth and the formation of new companies.
Five research areas
Developing modelling tools for basic conditions
NTNU and SINTEF have implemented a number of collaborative projects with the industry in order to quantify how materials develop throughout the production processes. There is a need for exact data in order to describe the materials’ properties in various conditions. The development of computer tools to optimize production would be of considerable practical significance for the industry.
Primary metal production
Metal production requires access to large quantities of good raw materials and energy, and the processes involve heavy CO2 emissions. Improved knowledge about raw materials is in all of the project participants’ interests. The same applies to process improvements that could reduce energy consumption.
Refining and recycling
Recycling materials is becoming increasingly important, however in order to manufacture metals with the desired properties based on recycled metal it must be possible to remove impurities. Research is also needed into the utilization of all side-flows and waste/slag from production.
Emissions and the environment
Norwegian producers lead the world when it comes to environmental performance, low emissions and using the best available technology (BAT). Nevertheless, there is a clear expectation from both the industry and society that we need to do even better.
Metals and society
This field of research is based on some dilemmas linked to the production of metal.
- Metal production is based on limited raw materials.
- The earth’s critical levels have already been exceeded in many areas.
- Today’s social and environmental challenges cannot be solved by market forces alone.