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Brussels, Belgium

Birat J.-P.,ESTEP | Malfa E.,CSM | Colla V.,SSSA | Thomas J.S.,ArcelorMittal
Technical Proceedings of the 2014 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo, NSTI-Nanotech 2014 | Year: 2014

ESTEP's SRA vision is to manage a smooth cooperation between the anthroposphere and the bio/ecosphere, with the mutual respect of the different players, and the challenges that the sector faces in terms of R&I in relation to SUSTAINABLE steel production. The focus is on reducing the environmental footprint of steel production and steel solutions by reducing resource consumption, fostering the use of secondary raw materials and thus accelerating the move towards a more closed-loop economy, by implementing energy efficiency, saving exergy, implementing process integration and ecodesign approaches. It also means reducing emissions and addressing complex issues such as climate change with ambitious targets or the preservation of biodiversity by internalizing the value of ecosystem services in business models. Source

Birat J.-P.,ESTEP
Metallurgical Research and Technology | Year: 2015

The Circular Economy is a contemporary and popular concept that describes how materials and resources should be handled in the future: the European Commission has recently published a communication setting the relevant policy trends. The present paper discusses some of these issues, proposing an analysis of what the concept means from the standpoint of materials stakeholders and how it can be refined or nuanced with a practical approach in mind. The core of the Circular Economy is the recycling of materials, which are recovered from the collection of end-of-life (EoL) investment or consumer goods. The key word is therefore recycling of EoL goods, materials, metals, minerals, residues and by-products and also molecules, like CO or CO2 (Carbon Capture Use and Storage, CCUS). Recycling brings materials savings and reduces the need for virgin resources (primary raw materials). When materials are recycled to the same material, other environmental benefits can also be collected, like energy savings, greenhouse gas emission reduction and a smaller environmental footprint in general. The kind of recycling that ought to be privileged is therefore that which improves all of these indicators at the same time, thus material-to-thesame material recycling. The circular economy should be described material by material, in order to analyze in detail what is already being done and what can still be improved: the various materials achieve very different levels of recycling and thus policies for going beyond present achievements will differ according to each material. The circular economy has an important time dimension, as many materials are stocked in the economy for long times, sometimes half a century or more. The lifespan of the material stocks means that high recycling rates today will be translated into high-recycled contents only in the future, sometimes in the long time. The Circular Economy is a long-time endeavor! There are two important tools for dealing with these issues, LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) and MFA (Materials Flow Analysis). They incorporate the cycle time of recycling but need to be expanded into dynamic LCA and MFA in order to become fully time-dependent. Policies founded on LCA at a microeconomic scale, and MFA at a macro-economic scale are the most apt to mirror how the socio-economic system works and thus to avoid negative rebound effects. Fostering the use of these tools is an important element in encouraging the Circular Economy. But it is also important to understand that the rationale for moving in this direction is environmental and political, not necessarily economical. Thus it will not be enough to foster technological R&D (Research & Development) and to achieve R&I (Research & Innovation): tools to internalize these externalities in the market economy will need to be introduced more widely. © EDP Sciences, 2015. Source

Birat J.-P.,ESTEP | Declich A.,Laboratory of Citizenship science | Belboom S.,University of Liege | Fick G.,IRT M2P | Chiappini M.,ArcelorMittal
Metallurgical Research and Technology | Year: 2015

An informal community has regularly organized annual conferences in Europe since 2007, on the connection between core commodities like materials and society and societal challenges: they are called SAM (Society and Materials). The approach is trans- and multi-disciplinary. Thus, sociologists, historians, architects, political scientists and policy makers, engineers, material scientists, life cycle community experts, business people and philosophers come together each year in cohorts of about 100 people from Europe, but also Asia, America and Africa, to give 30 to 40 presentations. They are made available on the SOVAMAT website (www.sovamat.org) and are published in journals like Revue de Métallurgie, Metallurgical Research & Technology and Matériaux et Techniques. Many kinds of materials are regularly discussed. Until today, the conferences have produced about 350 communications, many of which have been translated into peer-reviewed papers. These series of conferences were launched in order to address the complexity of technology evolution in the context of societal challenges. The intuition was that purely mono-disciplinary approaches would not be sufficient to address the future and that holistic methods like Life Cycle Analysis were still too narrowly focused to lead seamlessly to what was needed. Inviting separate communities to participate turned out to be quite popular and people have been coming back regularly and have attracted new players. The outcome is a mixture of disciplines speaking together, but also of practical proposals alongside methodological, meta- or ontological ones. With the hindsight of 10 years of practical experience, it is clear that the scientific agenda in terms of methodology, which was set at the beginning of the adventure, has been achieved. The paths followed were somewhat different, more empirical and more imaginative, than the initial vision of the organizers: a cluster of approaches was explored, which turned out to be richer than an improved version of LCA and MFA. Moreover, new issues have been raised, which make it likely that the initiative will continue indefinitely. This experience can probably help others find their way forward. © EDP Sciences 2015. Source

Birat J.-P.,ESTEP
Materiaux et Techniques | Year: 2015

The connection between industry, science, technology and societal challenges is often left to social scientists or to policy makers. It is however an interesting way to reflect on the activity of an industrial sector or on the role of key materials relative to the way we live in the world today. This essay attempts to analyze the role of steel with respect to the societal challenges defined by the European Horizon 2020 research and innovation program to direct R&I and face them. While steel is clearly related to energy, resources, transport or construction, it is also connected, directly and indirectly, with softer issues like health, well being and the inclusiveness of society. This is due to the particular feature of steel: an enduring technology, which has accompanied mankind in its historical journey since prehistory, but also an advanced material which is plastic enough in terms of its innovation potential to provide new solutions to new problems, incremental ones and breakthroughs that are needed to induce paradigm shifts. © EDP Sciences, 2015. Source

Birat J.-P.,ESTEP
Metallurgical Research and Technology | Year: 2016

Clean steels were "invented" in the middle of the 20th century, at a time when steels started to be produced en masse and when it was understood that quality should also be addressed as a special and important issue, both in terms of the strategy of the sector and as a major research topic for the science and technology that accompanies the industry. The series of Clean Steel conferences, launched in Hungary in 1970 and organized every 4 years since then, with Paul Tardy in the organizing committee or in the lead, have been providing important time markers of this evolution. Since then, major progress was made by the introduction in most steel shops of secondary or ladle metallurgy, which was invented in the process, while steel cleanliness was defined precisely in standards and textbooks. The discoveries of pioneers have become state-of-the art and, today, a steady state situation has been reached, where research continues in using new tools and methods to refine the topic, while new comers, mainly from the BRIC countries, are contributing their understanding of the topic to the international steel community. The distinction between special steels and carbon steels got blurred in this historical process, as similar secondary metallurgy tools were used for making both kinds of steels and, in essence, steel ceased to be a simple commodity and most steels became special to some extend. Clean steels have thus not become much more sophisticated recently, but rather much more common and mainstream. The expression "clean steel" stems from a vision of the purity of the metal in terms of minor elements, which had been controlled until then only at the margin compared to the major elements, iron, carbon, silicon and manganese. This is today a somewhat passéed vision as metallurgy has become a much more holistic and systemic technology, whereby steels are defined in terms of global composition, of distribution of phases, including the minor phases that are known as non-metallic inclusions, of microstructures and, more often than not, in terms of applications and properties in service. Moreover, steels have time extensions, which are discussed as life cycle or value chain and are thus embedded in the anthroposphere and its intersection with the biosphere and the geosphere. This emphasizes the fact that steels are made from raw materials, primary and secondary - thus including scrap from recycling -, that they are transformed into artifacts that participate to the life of society and eventually are disposed of at end of life to feed back into the circular economy. This holistic vision is what we call "environmental metallurgy". It is linked to clean steel production and constitutes another dimension of the cleanliness of steel. Plenary presentation to the 9th International Conference on Clean Steel, 8-10 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary. © EDP Sciences, 2016. Source

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