March 30, 2022
Meet Academic Program Leader Professor Brian Monaghan
Brian is involved in several projects within Program 1 (Process Integration and Sustainability) of the Steel Research Hub. These include recycling projects such as “Obtaining Value from Steel Plant By-Products” with BlueScope Steel and steel processing projects such as “The Effect of Slag Formation on Hot Metal and BOS Desulphurization” with Liberty Primary Steel (Whyalla). Much of his other research work also relates to sustainable steelmaking. He has projects focussed on decarbonising the steel industry in “Zero-CO2 production of essential technological metals”using hydrogen reduced DRI (funded through the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment); and understanding carbon reactivity projects in steel processing “The Effects of Ash Minerals on Coke Reactivity at High Temperatures” (funded through ACARP), so that where carbon has to be used, it can be minimised.
Brian is a metallurgist, specialising in high-temperature thermodynamics and process kinetics. As a kid, he used to like blowing things up and was very interested in lots of “hot” things, including liquid metals. As he became older, he translated such statements to the more acceptable: “I’ve always had a keen interest in science, problem-solving and understanding the world around me. I was naturally drawn to metallurgy” says Brian. He enjoys being a researcher in Science and Engineering as it means he gets to meet interesting creative people and work on important scientific problems. “If you can’t find fun in that well….” says Brian.
No one person inspired his career choice but there are two researchers that have had a significant impact on his scientific approach; the late Professor Ken Mills of the National Physical Laboratory and Imperial College, and Professor Ken Coley formerly of McMaster University and currently Dean of Engineering at Western University. For different reasons he found both men inspiring and great characters. He will say no more for fear of offending their modesty.
Brian explains some of the technical problems we are facing as a society are extremely challenging and almost overwhelming. Trying to remain optimistic in the face of these problems and encourage others to do likewise is difficult. Further, attempting to make industrial focussed research interesting to the wider community is hard but it is an essential element of our goal of a sustainable and economic Australian steel industry. People need to understand the relevance of this industry, and our research, to them.
Brian hopes to bring enthusiasm for the work and a conduit for issues and information that need to be communicated by the research teams to the Steel Research Hub leadership and vice versa.
“Overall, we want a sustainable and profitable Australian steel industry. These projects work towards that” says Brian.
Brian’s general view is this…
“If the sustainability, energy, and greenhouse gas challenges currently facing the planet are to be addressed, then we need strong engagement from the engineering and scientific communities with industry and the wider community. This Steel Research Hub provides a vehicle for that” says Brian.