After the success of the field trips of the last years the Chair of Ferrous Metallurgy planned a field trip to the actual center of global steel production in East Asia, to Northern China and South Korea. With a ratio of more than 50% of total global steel production, this region has high influence on the global steel market. For this reason it´s highly important for students and young researchers to gain experience about foreign countries regards to production and research in the field of iron- and steelmaking. The start of the trip was in Korea, where we visited with Hyundai Steel in Dangjin and Posco in Pohang the two most important steel domestic steel producers. Especially Posco is a leading company in steelmaking technology. With the FINEX-plant and the PS-boP (PoSCo-Saarstahl basic oxygen Process) we had the opportunity to visit two globally unique facilities for iron- and steelmaking. Furthermore we visited our partner university in Pohang, the Postech and the GIFT (Graduate Institute of Ferrous Technology). There we were introduced into the new PAL (Pohang Accelerator Laboratory), where fundamental research in the field of physics and material science is performed. Beside the official program we also had the possibility to visit the cities of Seoul, Pohang and Gyongju (historical capital of Korea and UNESCO world heritage). There we got an impression of the Korean culture and way of lifestyle. Especially the Korean food, which is mainly based on seafood, was an exotic experience for Austrians.
After the first week we moved our location from Korea to Dalian in the northern part of China. Dalian with its special economic zone is a growing industrial city with more than 6 Mio. inhabitants. The specific economical surrounding leads to the settling of many international companies. With RHI refractories we visited an Austrian company, which produces bricks for cement and steel industry. After that plant tour we moved to Dongbei Special Steel, a domestic producer of steel. Our tour through China was continued to Qinhuangdao, where we visited the End of Chinese Wall in the sea. After this cultural highlight we reached our final destination of the field trip, Beijing. On the first day in the Chinese capital we visited the research center of ShouSteel, a steel producer, who had to move the whole steel plant out of Beijing during the Olympic Games. In the afternoon we visited our partner university, the USTB (University of Science and Technology Beijing). After an introduction into actual research we were guided through the labs. At the end of the day we had the possibility to cook and eat traditional dumplings together with the professors and students of the USTB. Finally we finished the field trip by a tourist tour through Beijing, where we visited the Tianmen place, the forbidden city, the Olympic stadiums (birds nest and water cube) and made a Rickshaw- tour through a traditional district. After 12 days of dense program and incredible impressions of Asian metal production, research, culture and lifestyle we returned back home to Leoben. Of course a lot of work had to be done to organize such a trip and therefore many thanks to our partner.
First, many thanks to our industrial partners and sponsors like voestalpine AG, Primetals Technology, ESW, Inteco and Stadtgemeinde Leoben for their financial support and the contacts to Korean and Chinese companies. Furthermore, Sincere thanks are given to the steel plants and universities in Korea and China for their kind acceptance, the interesting guides and the excellent hospitality. Especially we want to thank Prof. Liu from USTB, who supported us in a very friendly way before and during our trip in China.
The experiences and adventures of this journey certainly will be treasured by the participants. Not only the insights in the steel industry of a foreign country, but also the knowledge about different cultures are formative aspects for the personality and future of the young engineers.