Turning Waste into Resources
1 January 2013
Professor Veena Sahajwalla, University of New South Wales, has recently been presented with two prestigious environmental and innovation awards for her work on developing a technology using recycled rubber in steel making. Veena was awarded both the Banksia Environmental Award in November and the Innovation Challenge Award in December 2012 – an acknowledgement of the importance of her research.
Veena’s awards recognise her work in developing a world-first technology that uses recycled materials, such as car tyres, in the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steel making process. These recycled products partially replace coal-based products, such as coke, which have traditionally been used. The ‘polymer injection’ technology, which is now standard practice at OneSteel’s EAF facilities in Sydney and Melbourne, has already prevented 1.5 million tyres from ending up in landfill.
Not only does this innovation substantially reduce the number of tyres sent to landfill each year, it also reduces the electricity consumption of steel making by up to 3%. This is a very significant decrease in energy use for the industry as electricity costs make up approximately 24% of the cost of a tonne of steel. It is a real win-win.
“We create waste in so many ways and this is just one way to give some of that waste a new existence and turn it into a resource,” said Veena. “I’m excited that this technology is being taken up in steel making, but it also has potential to be used in other industries as well and could potentially cut power usage by millions of kilowatt hours a year.”