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Joint "Horizontal Belt Casting of Steel" project - nominated for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis 2014 awarded by the German Federal President

Press release of Salzgitter AG

The Office of the Federal President today nominated three innovation projects for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis 2014, the German President's Award for Innovation in Science and Technology.

The "Horizontal Thin Strip Belt Casting - Resource-conserving Production of New High-performance Materials" joint project of Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, SMS Siemag AG and the Clausthal University of Technology has been short listed for the final decision round. As those responsible for the project, Ulrich Grethe, Chairman of the Management Board of Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, (project spokesman), Burkhard Dahmen, CEO of SMS Siemag AG and spokesman of the management of SMS Holding GmbH, as well as Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Spitzer, Managing Director of Institute of Metallurgy of TU Clausthal have been directly nominated.

Things remain exciting for the project teams: The winning team will be named by the jury on November 19, 2014, and German Federal President Joachim Gauck will award this outstanding German science prize to the winners at a celebratory event in Berlin.

As part of the industrial implementation of the "Horizontal Belt Casting of Steel" project, the Salzgitter Group has invested in industrial pilot facilities currently being ramped up at the Peine location.

More information can be found in the annex attached hereto and at

Project description and partners

The dream of casting thin steel!

In a close collaboration between science and industry, Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, SMS Siemag AG and the Clausthal University of Technology have succeeded in successfully scaling up the horizontal belt casting of steel, from fundamental research through to industrial use.

The technology of thin casting takes its lead from the dream and vision of producing steel products, ideally seamlessly, directly from molten material. This saves energy and resources, conserves the environment and opens up the potential for manufacturing steel products even more flexibly and cost efficiently in the future.

Over the past ten years, Professor Karl-Heinz Spitzer has made vital headway with the fundamental process technology at TU Clausthal with the support of the two industrial partners. The important foundations for this were also laid in the context of several research initiatives, one being the recent ReBand project of Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry for Education and Research). Ulrich Grethe (Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH) and Burkhard Dahmen (SMS Group) together assumed a leading role in realizing the world's first industrial facilities during the period from 2010 to 2012. This courageous step was also funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in the context of environmental protection aid.

Since then, the two parties, drawing on the scientific support of Professor Spitzer, have both coordinated the break-in run that has already produced evidence of its sustainability for industrial use. In addition, they are responsible for launching the process technology in the market and selling the belt casted steel products.

This special process technology also opens up the prospect of producing innovative high-performance materials, which, up until now, has been impossible or extremely difficult. A prime example is an entirely new generation of lightweight construction steels that are extremely resilient while exhibiting high ductility, thereby essentially combining two generally irreconcilable material properties in conventional steel as well as other metals. Ideally shaped and highly stress resistant components can now be produced that make vehicles lighter, but also safer for instance.

The horizontal belt casting of steel addresses the key challenges of a cutting-edge, forward-looking process technology and material production. An additional aspect is the significant stimulus it generates for securing the sustainability of steel-intensive industries against the backdrop of global competition. This applies not only to the future of Germany's steel industry, but also to its traditionally strong automotive and machinery industries, as well as plant engineering.

This is how it works!

In contrast to the conventional continuous casting of thick ingots, horizontal belt casting allows the molten steel to be poured around 20 times more thinly on to an intensively cooled belt moving at speed on an infinite radius roll. The already near-net-shape casting of the material in a thickness of around 15 mm dispenses with the need for onerous reheating and rolling steps on its way to becoming sheet steel.

The horizontal melt flow facilitates a good cooling process that exerts little mechanical strain on the hot steel. The belt caster and product move at the same speed, and the lubricants customarily required can be dispensed with. The cooling water does not come into contact with the cast product and is reused without further treatment.

The swift cooling of the material has a positive effect on the casting quality. The casting thickness is, however, of sufficient dimension to allow the desired product properties to be securely achieved after rolling. Essentially these process advantages are what have made the production of a wide range of new, high grade and particularly sophisticated steel materials possible in the first place.

High strength matched by high ductility!

The advantages of horizontal belt casting are put to use, for instance, in the production of an entirely new generation of lightweight HSD® steels. HSD® stands for high strength and ductility and for steels with a higher manganese content and small additions of aluminum and silicon. The product properties can be individually customized to suit the application in question. This solution also harbors deformation reserves which come into their own under different exposures to stress - take colliding vehicles or very low temperatures, for example. New design and lightweight construction potential can be tapped, also in the non-automotive sector, which opens the door to further energy savings and resource efficiencies.

HSD® steels lend themselves particularly to automotive lightweight construction, especially heavily stressed components with complex geometries in the bodywork, interior and chassis. Automotive engineers enjoy greater scope for design without having to additionally heat up the material. In the weight-optimized utilization of materials, both the number of individual components and operations in the forming process can be reduced in production.

Testing is typically under way for components relevant to safety, such as bumpers, door impact bars, car seats and load-bearing bodywork components. Weight savings of 17% to 38% can be made compared with today's serial production.

Bright outlook

Belt casting technology and high-performance steels have a doubly positive impact on sustainable environmental protection. The consumption of energy during the casting and hot rolling stages can be reduced in the future by around one third through full process integration. In addition, the weight advantage of belt casted lightweight construction steels reduces the amount of gas needed to run a vehicle.

The industrial-scale introduction of the belt casting technology in the Peine steelworks is progressing steadily and may be the genesis of a broader industrial breakthrough. The belt casting process is decidedly compelling due to its economical and compact design and comparatively low capital expenditure. The SMS Group has the opportunity of developing this innovative casting technology into an industrial production method suitable for conventional and special steels and selling it successfully. Moreover, numerous ongoing product development projects have shown a lively interest in the belt casted lightweight steels from Salzgitter. The scope of the range of steel products achievable through this process currently defies prediction. Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH is already working on other construction and functional materials that are perfectly suited to belt casting.

Salzgitter AG

With external sales of ? 9 billion in 2013, a crude steel capacity of approximately 8 million tons and a workforce of around 25,000 employees, Salzgitter AG ranks as one of Europe's leading steel and technology groups. The company operates cutting-edge and resource efficient production sites in Germany and abroad. It comprises more than 200 subsidiaries and associated companies and is divided up into the five business units of Strip Steel, Plate/Section Steel, Trading, Energy and Technology, all operating under the management of Salzgitter AG as the holding company.

Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH is the Salzgitter Group's largest steel subsidiary. Some 4.4 million tons of crude steel were produced in 2013, with annual sales of ?2.7 billion. Salzgitter Flachstahl currently has a workforce around 5,769 employees. Its most important customers include vehicle manufacturers, their suppliers, standard and large-diameter tubes manufacturers, re-rollers and the construction industry. The company fields a wide range of hot and cold rolled along with surface-finished products. It focuses particularly on innovative and customized production processes and material solutions destined, for example, for special forming processes and extremely sophisticated safety and exterior components of automotive construction.
Presscontact: Bernhard Kleinermann, +49 (0)5341 21 2300,

SMS group

The SMS group is a global leader in the field of metallurgical machinery and plant engineering for the processing of steel and NF metals. It employs more than 13,800 employees worldwide and generates sales of around ? 3.5 billion. The Group consists of companies operating internationally headed by SMS Holding GmbH and is divided into the business areas of SMS Siemag, SMS Meer as well as associated industrial companies. Around 60 percent of the SMS group's total sales are generated by SMS Siemag whose product program covers the process chain with facilities for the steel, aluminum, and NF metal industry, from the production of pig iron, steel works technology, continuous casting techniques for strip products and rolled technology through to finishing for hot-rolled and cold-rolled strip, including electrics and automation as well as the relevant services.
Press contact: Dr. Thomas Isajiw, +49 (0)211 881-4127, thomas.isajiw(at)sms-group.comClausthal

Clausthal University of Technology

Innovative, industry-oriented, international. Engineers and scientists have been trained for more than 230 years in Clausthal. Originally a mining academy, the Clausthal University of Technology held in high national and international regard places particular emphasis on technologies of the future. Research and education at Clausthal University of Technology are currently focused on Energy and Raw Materials, Materials Science as well as Simulation and Complex Systems. Since the beginning of 2009, Clausthal University of Technology, the Technische Universität Braunschweig and Leibniz Universität Hannover have combined their engineering and scientific expertise under the Niedersächsische Technische Hochschule, NTH. The aim of this cooperation is to establish an equal footing with Germany's leading technical universities. With around 4,600 students and some 1,050 employees, TU Clausthal is one of the most important economic factors in the Harz.
Press contact: Christian Ernst, +49 (0)5323 72 3904,

Source: Salzgitter AG


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