Adam Gilchrist, Paul Zulli, Judi Zielke, Jason Clare, Patricia Davidson, Alison Barnes at the launch of the Steel Research Hub. Photo: Paul Jones

ARC Hub for Australian Steel Innovation launched by The Hon Jason Clare MP

ARC Hub for Australian Steel Innovation launched by The Hon Jason Clare MP

UOW leads $28 million research hub focused on creating sustainable future for national steel industry

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Hub for Australian Steel Innovation (Steel Research Hub) was officially launched in the Illawarra today (Thursday 13 October), with the aim of delivering a range of innovative research outcomes that underpin the next generation of functional steel products and advanced manufacturing processes, supporting the transition of the national steel manufacturing industry to a more sustainable position.

The Hon Jason Clare MP, Federal Minister for Education, was joined by University of Wollongong (UOW) Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson, Global Brand Ambassador Adam Gilchrist AM, ARC Chief Executive Officer Ms Judi Zielke PSM, senior UOW leaders, and industry and university partner representatives to launch the $28 million, five-year research hub.

Led by UOW, the Steel Research Hub brings together the best and brightest university researchers in partnership with talented scientists and engineers from industry. It includes 10 industry partners (BlueScope Steel, Liberty Primary Steel, Infrabuild (Manufacturing), Infrabuild (Wire), ArcelorMittal, Bisalloy, Australian Steel Institute, Weld Australia, Australian Industry Group and the National Association of Steel-Framed Housing) and nine university partners ( RMIT University, Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Newcastle, Deakin University, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Monash University).

The launch was held at BlueScope Steel’s Visitor Centre in Port Kembla, with attendees invited to take part in a site tour ahead of formal proceedings.

Dr Paul Zulli, Director of the Steel Research Hub, said the Hub was at the vanguard of research and innovation in steel manufacturing and thanked Minister Clare for launching it. 

“Following the successful achievements and innovations of the first hub, our new Steel Research Hub represents a strategic and unique partnership enabling the delivery of a broad set of new innovative solutions across national steel manufacturers, channel partners, peak bodies, small to medium enterprises and governments,” Dr Zulli said.  

“Given these achievements and the trusted relationships at various organisational levels, there is a strong willingness among partners to engage cooperatively in the training of a more skilful and technologically capable manufacturing workforce for the 21st century, and influential leaders who are familiar with innovation.”

The Hon Jason Clare MP speaks at the launch of the ARC Steel Research Hub. Photo: Paul Jones

Professor David Currow, UOW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Sustainable Futures) and Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), said Wollongong’s history as a steel city meant UOW was in a strong position to spearhead change in the field.

“We are thrilled to officially launch the ARC Steel Research Hub. Our researchers are among the best in the world in the area of steel innovation and development, and the new hub will enable that work to continue and to grow,” Professor Currow said. “The steel industry has underpinned Wollongong’s identity, and it is fitting the new Hub will bring together that history with the city’s future as a place of research and innovation.

“We are proud to be leading the new hub. The University and its industry and research partners will continue to deliver world-class research and build those deep connections with industry, enhancing economic and environmental outcomes that will benefit all Australians.”

In 2020, $5 million in funding for the University of Wollongong-led Steel Research Hub was announced as part of the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Program. In addition to the ARC funding, the Steel Research Hub has also received funding and in-kind support from its industry and university partners.

The new ARC Steel Research Hub builds on the work of the first Steel Research Hub, which began operating at UOW in 2014 with the vision of bringing together teams of internationally recognised research and industry talent to deliver innovative solutions and breakthrough technologies in manufacturing and product development. 

Dr Paul Zulli speaks at the launch of the ARC Steel Research Hub. Photo: Paul Jones

The overarching goal of the new Hub is to support the transition of Australia’s steel manufacturing industry to a more sustainable, competitive and resilient position, based on the creation of new, higher value-added products and more advanced manufacturing processes.

These research activities are focussed in four main areas:  

  • Novel approaches to next-generation products incorporating improved functionality such as higher strength, ductility, durability and resilience;
  • New methodologies that significantly improve resource intensity and utilisation while improving productivity, product quality and asset life of manufacturing facilities;
  • Step-change performance in anti-corrosion treatments for products, new processing capability and more productive manufacturing facilities, and
  • New applications of advanced manufacturing technologies to achieve a generational shift in capability across the supply chain.