Steel is the most important material of our time and is the basis for our modern society. Due to the social and economic development of the world population, steel production has been doubled worldwide since the turn of the millennium. In 2017, world steel production amounted to 1.7 billion tons. It has caused 6% of CO2 missions worldwide, making the steel industry one of the largest emitters in the industrial sector. The production of steel with regard to climate protection is one of the biggest challenges facing the steel industry today.
The material steel itself is characterized by its good recyclability, which means that it already fulfills an important requirement of a future circular economy society to a high degree today. The objective of a “circular economy” is the minimum consumption of finite, non-renewable resources by the economy and society. The introduction of new, resource-saving and therefore sustainable technologies for power generation, transport, infrastructure, machinery, communication and many other applications is only possible with the use of steel. However, steel production itself must also contribute to the circular economy. The steel industry has also recognized this and is pursuing a strategy with three main objectives:
- Implementation of ‘Best Practice Technologies’ and the introduction of ‘Bridge Technologies’ to operate today’s steel production with lower emissions (especially CO2) and higher efficiency.
- Development of new breakthrough technologies to produce steel with nearly zero CO2 emissions.
- Improve the quality of steel and develop new steel alloys to increase sustainability of use – such as increasing energy and resource efficiency or longer life.
The research topics have been executed in close cooperation with partners from industry and scientific institutes, all of which can be assigned to the above-mentioned priorities. The economic situation improved again in 2016 and 2017 for the steel industry and its suppliers. The result for us is a larger number of research projects and dissertations.
The education of young students and academics also takes into account the abovementioned demands which they will have to meet in their professional future. It will be their responsibility to implement the strategy outlined above over the next few decades. In 2016 and 2017, a total of 38 students have obtained master’s degree in metallurgy of which 20 with the elective Ferrous Metallurgy. During the same period, several bachelor and master theses were supervised. Seven doctoral theses supervised by our chair were also completed. In the course of the traditional main excursion for students of the elective Ferrous Metallurgy in the Master’s degree program, companies in Germany and Austria were visited in 2016. In 2017, Texas and Mexico were the destination. The high standard of our teaching is confirmed by the nomination of Prof. Bernhard and Ass. Prof. Michelic for the Ars Docendi award in 2017.
The ‘Metaldays’ are organized by the Department of Metallurgy as an informational event for young students interested in studying metallurgy and about to finish the high-school. This event has a long tradition and was held for the 7th and 8th time. We would like to sincerely thank all those who supported the Metaldays and contributed to the organization. The enrollment numbers for the 1st semester in the Bachelor’s degree in metallurgy unfortunately declined compared to the previous years. Boosting it again is one of the greatest future challenges facing our Chair and the entire Department of Metallurgy. We are determined to take groundbreaking measures for advertising in the future. The first steps were taken in 2017. The curriculum was created at the end of 2017 for a new international master program “Joint Master for Sustainable Materials“. The program will be available from winter semester 2018 and the international partner universities are University of Leuven and Trento. Our chair will hold several courses for the Department of Ferrous Metallurgy.
The international academic cooperation was also expanded in 2016 and 2017. A project funded by the Austrian Exchange Service was completed successfully as a partner with the Metallurgical and Material Engineering Department, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. On the initiative of Prof. Schenk, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil to promote the cooperation and exchange of students and researchers especially in the fi eld of metallurgy. We also had to convey an unfortunate event in 2017. Our longtime colleague and good friend Priv.Doz. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. mont. Guangmin Xia has left us forever.