K1-MET is a COMET competence center doing research on Sustainable Digitalized Metallurgy for a Climate Neutral and Resource Efficient Planet (“SusMet4Planet”). The competence center is collaborating closely with the Austrian steel industry. Its strategy is aligned with the goal of 55 % CO2reduction until 2030 and climate neutrality until 2050. These objectives are in line with the European Green Deal, Fit-for-55, or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Austria’s even more ambitious goal of climate neutrality until 2040. K1-MET GmbH is essential to the continuation of the prolonged successful track record of the Austrian steel and processing industry. The COMET center contributes to make it more competitive, sustainable, and lead to economic growth. Three strategic goals are the mission of K1-MET:
- Increase process efficiency and strengthen circularity in metallurgy
- Push forward the decarbonisation of the metallurgical industry and sector coupling
- Generate and use of metallurgical process knowledge through digital technologies
K1-MET’s research and development efforts and collaboration with industry and science contribute essentially to a sustainable and competitive metallurgical industry in Austria and abroad. This is especially important as the European steel industry accounts for around 6 % of total European Union greenhouse gas emissions (15 % in Austria) and associated environmental impact. There is added value in terms of cooperation and knowledge transfer, science, and education (see Figure). These benefits interact and harmonize with each other creating a perfect environment for research progress and breakthroughs.
- Establishing a national and international network with existing and new scientific and company partners
- Securing accelerated knowledge transfer
- Considering interests from science and industry
- Balancing high-value fundamental and applied research within COMET programme
- Pilot plants to demonstrate climate neutral and zero-waste production processes
- Potential rolling out of scientific tools and technologies to other industriesn
- Senior Experts team with advanced skills in metallurgy, process technology, and digitalization
- Launching scientific careers by offering master & PhD theses for junior scientists
- Creating a future human resources pool for company partners
- Offering research exchanges with international renowned research organizations
Innovation work is carefully scoped to ensure highest possible value for all consortium partners. In addition, skills development of young researchers is very important to launch scientific and technical careers within metallurgy and metallurgical process engineering in Austria and abroad.
K1-MET GmbH has proven its expertise in conducting fundamental research and successfully transferring it to the next level of development. This includes proficiency in scaling up processes and knowledge transfer towards industry. Exemplarily, K1-MET has become an outstanding knowledge carrier in hydrogen-based reduction of iron oxides on international level (see figure below).
Furthermore, the competence center drives the implementation of developed simulation methods and process analyses into industrial environment. K1-MET is in the unique position to act as connecting link between developers of digital technologies, e. g., big data methods, and potential users of such digital technologies.
The aim is to push forward efficiency and product quality during steel processing steps such as refining and casting. At the end of the process chain, K1-MET, together with its industrial and scientific partners, creates know-how in treating metallurgical residue streams. The goal is to enhance direct recycling and recover valuable fractions. In the new funding period, this will now be complemented by the increasingly important topic of industrial symbiosis. Companies work together to use resources more efficiently and reduce waste by exchanging by-products and utilizing each other’s waste as resources. This coupling between energy intensive sectors helps to reach climate neutrality until 2050.