Previous Steel Research Hub (2014-2020)

About Steel Research Hub 1

Steel Research Hub 1 attracted funding of almost $13M over 5 years, including significant investments from the Australian Research Council and BlueScope. It was a testament to the critical importance of this industry in Australia, and demonstrates the value that both industry and government place in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research.

Led by the University of Wollongong, the Steel Research Hub brought together key partner, BlueScope, with Arrium, Bisalloy, Cox Architects, Australian Steel Institute, Lysaght, Stockland and the University of Queensland, University of Newcastle, Swinburne University of Technology, RMIT and Monash University, to drive its research program.


Hub Management

Paul Zulli | Director

Nathan Wright | Manager

Bonnie Johnston | Administration Coordinator

Oscar Gregory | Former Director

Julie Matarczyk | Former Manager

Chief Investigators (Academic)

  • Professor Paul Cooper
  • Professor Brian Monaghan
  • Professor Elena Ivanova
  • Professor Ian Cameron
  • Professor Huijun Li
  • Professor Lip Teh
  • Associate Professor Buyung Kosasih
  • Associate Professor Kazuhiro Nogita
  • Professor Ma Qian
  • Professor David StJohn
  • Professor Elena Pereloma
  • Professor Michael Higgins
  • Professor Irene Yarovsky
  • Associate Professor Yue Zhao
  • Professor Geoffrey Evans
  • Dr Guangqing Zhang
  • Dr Zongyan Zhou
  • Mr Oscar Gregory
  • Dr Subhasish Mitra

Chief Investigators (Industry)

  • Dr Sheng Chew
  • Mr Mark Eckermann
  • Dr David Nolan
  • Jason Hodges

Partner Investigators

  • Mr Michael Bradburn
  • Dr Peter Key
  • Mr Chris Killmore
  • Dr David Pinson
  • Dr Dake Yu

Research Fellows

  • Aziz Ahmed
  • Scott Beazley
  • Alberto Escribano
  • Emma Heffernan
  • Sina Jamali
  • Andrew Johnstone
  • Abdul Khaliq
  • Andrii Kostryzhev
  • Ray Longbottom
  • Paul Molino
  • Matthew Penna
  • Dondong Qu
  • Mohammed Sohel
  • Vi Khanh Truong
  • Alan Green
  • Leela Kempton

PhD Candidates

  • Refat Ahmed
  • Rubel Ahmed
  • Steven Beltrame
  • Deside Chibwe
  • Raju Chowdhury
  • Phillip Drain
  • Nicholas Franklin
  • Matthew Gear
  • Thomas Jurak
  • Brianna Knowles
  • Huibin Li
  • Wenxuan Li
  • Chris McMahon
  • Ai Thi Diem Nguyen
  • Le Quang Phan
  • Yinxuan Qiu
  • Muhammad Rizwan
  • Joel Samsu
  • Gregory Siemon
  • Navjeet Singh
  • Dan Yang

Exploring cold-formed steel

Dr Emma Heffernan explains how this project brought together a multi-disciplinary team to explore cold-formed steel (CFS) building systems for the mid-rise residential apartment sector in Australia. The team’s overarching goal was to develop and assess CFS construction systems that are suitable and compelling for use in Australia.

Hi, I'm Dr. Emma Heffernan, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Engineering here at UOW in the Steel Hub. I was a research fellow in the B2 project. I've been researching the use of load-Bearing Cold Steel Systems for use in mid-rise apartment buildings in Australia as a replacement or an alternative system to the typical construction system of reinforced concrete. We hope that demonstrating the feasibility of using coliforms steel, will encourage the uptake of using these alternative construction systems by both designers and contractors

We've had good engagement with our industry partners throughout the project. In particular, we've worked closely with Cox Architects to develop a new way of approaching the design of mid-rise apartment buildings, which plays to the strengths of cold form steel. Because the design and construction of mid-rise apartment buildings is a complex process, we've had to approach the evaluation and comparison of the different construction systems with multiple ways of analyzing and evaluating those alternative systems. So we've focused on using building information, modeling, or BEIMS to be able to analyse the different systems in a number of ways, including for cost, constructability lifecycle assessments, and in other ways, too.

As part of the project, it was important for us to have a case study building, for us to be able to analyse the alternative systems that we wanted to evaluate. So we started by working with COX to develop an archetype apartment building, which would be typical of apartment buildings in Australia. So it was to be compliant with all of the necessary regulations. Once we designed that to be constructed using reinforced concrete, we went on to go through a process of redesigning the same building to be constructed with coal and steel, and that involves working closely with a construction company in the US who were able to advise us on some of their best practice techniques of designing and constructing and performing steel for mid-rise apartment buildings.

Through our comparison of the two construction systems using the architect building, we were able to show that there were both cost and schedule improvements through using cold form steel.

We are in the process of developing a technical design guide, which we hope will help designers to become familiar with the ways that they can design coal from steel buildings. I hope that the work that we've done in our projects will enable the construction industry in Australia to start to design and construct load-bearing cold for steel buildings, for apartments, and offer a disruptive alternative to the reinforced concrete systems that have been pervasive in the industry for many years.

Innovative Cladding and Insulation

Dr Wenye Lin explains how this project focused on the development of advanced, multifunctional steel-intensive wall cladding systems and products which optimise both IEQ and energy usage using both passive and active systems.

Hello, everyone, I'm Wenye Li, I'm from China and I'm currently an Associate Research Fellow in the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, University of Wollongong. I'm in the Steel Hub B2.2 research group in partnership with BlueScope and Cox. My research in the Steel Research Hub is focused on the investigation of the steel-related to sustainable building technologies.

My specific research involves three subtasks. The first task is the experimental investigation of a transpersonal collector it's a kind of building facade led with perforated holes on the surface so that we can drill through the small holes and improve our temperature. We can use lead hot air for indoor space heating so as to facilitate sustainability in the building sector.In the research where experimentally investigate the performance of legends by a solar collector and at the same time address some practical problems. I believe our research is title related to the industrial technology itself is developed based on some public available products in the Australian market. After we improved its performance, our final target is to promote its deployment in the market. The second one is the modeling of cold form steel buildings and the third one is the investigation of the dynamic climate-responsive building envelope systems. The overall research methodology is a combination of the experimental study and a numerical simulation and followed by using some data mining technologies to carry out the data processing. 

Analysis and design in residential cold formed steel construction

Dr Aziz Ahmed explains how Innovative, cold-formed steel (CFS) building products are required to facilitate rapid construction of mid-rise apartment buildings and to ensure structural robustness, efficiency, and functionality of the new mid-rise apartment building archetype proposed.

I'm Aziz Ahmed and an Associate Research Fellow under the ARC Steel Research Hub in partnership with BlueScope Steel. I'm specifically involved in Project B2, which is titled Market Focused Innovation in Cold-Formed Steel Intensive Midrise Residential Buildings. In this particular project, I worked as a structural engineer specialist in B project 2.3 we look at the structural issues that need to be resolved so that an efficient and economically in the current industry in Australia can build these cold-formed steel-intensive midrise residential steel buildings.

To do that, we look at two specific themes. One is the connections where we look at both bolted and screw connections and different components. The second thing is the larger component, which is the shear panels that would allow us to design this building so that they can withstand higher wind loads. And finally, we look at the system behavior where we have developed a very efficient simulation technology for the full-scale building. All our research work is very much market-focused and industry-driven. For example, the connection works that have been intensively worked by the Ph.D. student Refat Ahmed has the potential to be included in Australian standards, which would allow the practicing engineers to design these connections more efficiently. These shear panels have been specifically optimized for Australian conditions and Australian materials, as well as Australian construction practice, so they can feed directly into the way we construct today. 

So we believe it has a very high potential to impact the industry. The efficient simulation technique that we have developed in this project for a full-scale simulation of this kind of cold form steel-intensive midrise residential buildings can be used by practicing engineers using their standard software to efficiently and economically design the full building. As with any good research, we start with an extensive literature review. We use a lot of laboratory level testing. We use standard equipment such as the universal testing machine for a lot of coupon tests and other specimen dis bolted connection tests. But also we have developed this lateral testing facility at the University of Wollongong where we can test high capacity shear panels. Thirdly, we use advanced experimental techniques. We have used Abacus as well as other software in our studies to simulate fracture and even the whole full-scale building behavior. 

The biggest mentor for our project is Associate Professor Lip Teh. We also have received significant mentorship from our industry partner Trevor Clayton, and our Steel Hub Director Paul Zulli, who has introduced us to industry mentors specifically and individually, such as for me as Dr Peter Key, the national technical director for the Australian Steel Institute.

Analysis and design in residential cold formed steel construction

PhD candidate Refat Ahmed explains how the various aspects of the CFS construction system have been evaluated to directly focus on areas with significant potential for unlocking the advantages of CFS, including framing and flooring systems, composite structures and connections.

I'm Refat Ahmed, I'm from Bangladesh. Currently, I'm a Phd student at the School of Civil Mining and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wollongong. I'm working in Project B two, which is Product Innovation of Cold form Steel Intensive Midrise Building, which is a partnership with BlueScope Steel. 

Cold form steel is the steel formed by pressing and rolling at normal temperature. There are a few advantages of having cold form steel; it's very light compared to the same strength in other materials, it has non-combustibility properties and it can be used to make different forms of shapes and, the main advantage is to have faster construction. As a structural engineer, my responsibility was to find out the performance of critical components in structural design. To be specific, I was working with bolted connections, power, and nail connections angle clip connectors. I was also involved in the development of cold form steel high capacity shear walls, which are optimized for Australian conditions. It suddenly has some advantages of quick installation, but it has some limitations using cold-formed steel. My job in my project was to find out the way to overcome those limitations so that we can use those advantages and use cold-formed steel construction. So in the outcome, I actually came up with some simple equation and some simple guidelines which can be improved the existing design practice, and we possibly can add it to our standard as a specific design guideline. 

My work on shear panels is also important because in that one we actually came up with some ideas to improve the performance of existing shear panels, which is very important when we wanted to use cold form steel in mid-rise, are building higher than two stories because we will be needing high strength later lutist systems in my PhD I used both computer analysis and laboratory test. In laboratory tests, I mostly use a universal testing machine to test our connections and to determine the material properties as a part of our research we also developed a full-scale shapen panel testing facilities in our university. We had both mentors from academics and also from industry. After finishing my PhD, I want to pursue a career where I have to face challenges in structural designing, structural engineering, and also I want to work in an environment that is best suited to my research interests and where I can actually use my experience with Hub in future, whether it is in industry or in academics. 


Effect of retained BOS slag on refractory wear

PhD candidate Ai Thi Diem Nguyen explains how her research will provide a fundamental understanding of the effects of retained slag practice on basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS) refractory wear. While there has been much work carried out on the effects of BOS slag composition on carbon-bonded magnesia refractories, there has been little that has dealt with the specifics of retained slag practice on BOS refractory wear.

My name is Ai and I am from Vietnam. I got a master's degree from South Korea and now I'm doing my Ph.D. in the University of Wollongong. My PhD project is a part of the program D, which is Sustainable Steel Manufacturing. My project is about understanding the effect of retaining slag on the refectory wear on the steelmaking vessel.

Refectory is new as the lining material in the vessel, which contains liquid steel and liquid slides. Refractory is the high-temperature material, which can stay in a very high temperature of the vessel is specifically messer common. The temperature of the cell can go up to about 1700 hundred degrees C. The outcomes of my project are expected to inform the operations in the steel company for a better strategy to maintain the refractory life as well as balance the optimal flux composition and maintenance of the refractory, which can help to reduce the cost of replacing the refractory lining. 

My PhD project is in an experimental phase. I'm using two different methods to obtain the goal of my project. The first method is the search technique and the second one is the rotating finger experiments, mostly based on the high-temperature equipment. The key highlights of my projects are quite important. I have found some good results that help the BlueScope Steel Company to optimize their slack compositions and hopefully reduce the corrosion of the refractory. For the rest of my PhD, I am continuing my rotating finger experiment, which is the method to rotate the refractory staple in liquid slag at high temperatures to investigate the solution. Kinetics of the refractory sample in this slaG.


Use of ferrous ores on melt characteristics of sinter

PhD candidate Huibin Li explains how his research aims to develop a fundamental understanding and capability to assess the effects of using different Australian iron ores on the melt characteristics of raw materials in the sinter blend, particularly in relation to temperature, basicity and gas composition.

I'm Huibin Li I have two projects in Steel Research Hub. The first one is my PhD project which is about different iron ore sintering. Firstly I characterise different iron ores. Firstly, I got a lot of information about iron ore and also to the evolution of the iron ore in the high temperature here in sintering. I also got some zinc removal experiments in my PhD projects and after that, I start my second project. My second project is about zinc removal of biogas field cake by sintering. It is a very big problem in the industry to a lot of steelmaking dust that was generated every day and it is stockpot in the steel-making company. So at the moment, I want to solve this problem, to remove zinc and to recycle these secondary sources by the biogas field cake by the blast furnace and by the sintering process. In my project, I use two methods. The first one is a tablet experiment and the second one is a pilot experiment. 

Obtaining value from steel plant waste

Dr Ray Longbottom explains that realising economic value from steel plant by-products and maintaining a strong social and environmental perspective is an essential requirement of present day steelmaking. The focus of his research is on the sustainable recovery and utilisation of iron and flux units.

I'm Ray Longbottom I'm a Research Fellow in the Steel Research Hub. I'm part of Program D which is Sustainable Steel Manufacturing and my project is on recycling steel plant byproducts. 

One of my main focuses has been on steelmaking dust, which contains useful components such as iron and fluxes, but also contains zinc, which is quite a harmful thing for the process. In terms of steel making dust, they currently produce about 20 thousand tonnes a year in the stockpiles the steel making dust undergoes a process called self sintering, where the material heats up autonomously in the stockpiles, agglomerates, and becomes stronger, which makes it easier to recycle. This process was very inconsistent. What we've been looking at is what's happening, why it happens, and how we can make it happen more consistently. 

I've been heating up the steelmaking dust's in the air to 1000 degrees and we'll be using the TGA or TGDSC which gives me the mass change and the entropy of reactions. And using those two bits of information, I can work out what reactions are occurring at what temperatures. We measured the moisture content to be around 15 percent. This is very unusual worldwide usually it's up around about, say, 50 percent moisture and if the moisture content of the steel making dusting is so low is one of the reasons why it reacts at low temperatures.

The byproducts at the steel plant are quite variable. The favors and the composition change with time and practice. So what we've done is we've collected samples over quite a long period of time and characterise them all in using just fairly basic techniques like XID microscopy, XRF, a combination of phases, methodology, and see how that changes with the time of practice at a plant, which is information they didn't really have before. One of the key highlights from my project has been working out what reactions were occurring from the steelmaking dust. What we found out was that until I have gone inside, the steelmaking dust was very, very fine were talking around about 200-300 nanometres. They gave it a very high reactivity with air, which meant that it reacted starting at very low temperatures, about 120 degrees to 200 degrees it started oxidizing and heating itself up.


Fundamental Understanding of Processing limits in blast furnace ironmaking

Dr Apsara Jayasekara and Dr Xuefeng Dong explain how their project addresses a key strategic issue faced by all steel producers and their raw materials suppliers, being the selection of a suite of raw materials, the properties of which optimize the performance of each specific blast furnace (BF), particularly in terms of productivity and overall operating cost.

Xuefeng Dong: I'm Xuefeng Dong currently I'm working at the Steel Research Hub as a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong. 

Apsara Jayasekara: I'm Apsara Jayasekara I'm working as a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong in the Steel Research Hub. 

Xuefeng Dong: This is a collaborative project working with BlueScope Steel, Arcelor Mittal in France, and the University of Wollongong. For this project, we have a total of three aims. The first aim is to understand our wettability for slag and the second aim we want to know the behavior of slag in the space between the particles. That particle could be the co particles. In the final aim, we want to know the liquid flow behavior in the packed bed. 

Apsara Jayasekara: We studied the productivity limits of the blast furnace. This project has two main categories, experimental and numerical. I'm focusing on the high-temperature experiment. This study has three experiments. One is the backbend experiments, the other one is the visibility experiment and the third one is the final experiment the pack bed experiment. We use this set up where we can introduce slag at particular rates. This one helps us to understand the liquid holder in the blast furnace, which is very critical for productivity. In availability experiments, we check the contact between the Coke and the slags and molten iron. In the third experiment setup, we started using the funnels and we studied the critical phonic exercise required for the liquids to flow through. Key equipment used in this project is high-temperature vertical furnaces and high-temperature horizontal furnaces where we subject the samples to very high temperatures like fifteen hundred degrees or so. We use other characterization techniques like XRF, XRD, SCN for the sample analysis. 

Xuefeng Dong: This project has helped our understanding of liquid flow in the lower part of the blast furnace and also could help us to select the proper material for blast furnace operation which is most beneficial for the university and the industry partner.