Solid-state scrap processing

Solid-state scrap metal processing for reduction of water usage in steel making is the focus of an Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) 2023 Solutions Grant led by J-WAFS principal investigator, Cem Tasan. Cem's previous research has led to the development of Scrap metal consolidation (SMC), for processing solid-state scrap metal into a formable sheet metal. SMC can achieve at-scale steel recycling with 86% less energy than conventional metal recycling, which is fresh water and energy-intensive, contributing to 8% of global CO2 emissions.

Cem's research team estimates that half of US steel recycling, which accounts for 46% of annual steel production, can be replaced with SMC. The team has identified effective processing conditions and validated the mechanical formability of the steel sheets through proof-of-principal investigations. Through the J-WAFS Solutions Grant, the team is building customer product prototypes, designing the SMC processing unit and developing a scale-up strategy and business model.

Scrap Metal Consolidation (SMC) is a metal-forming process for transforming scrap metal pieces into formable sheet metal in a solid state. SMC is an alternative to conventional metal recycling processes, which require large amounts of fresh water and energy and contribute to 8% of total CO2 emissions globally. If implemented at scale, SMC can decrease the energy need for steel recycling by up to 86%, as well as reduce the linked CO2 emissions and water consumption. In the United States, 46% of annual steel production is linked to steel recycling, and the research team estimates that it is possible to replace half of the U.S. steel recycling operations with SMC.