EVRAZ launches global vanadium R&D initiative

EVRAZ Vanadium has established a new Research and Development Center located in Group subsidiary East Metals AG, Zug, Switzerland. The main objective is to support sustainable and diversified usage of vanadium as an alloying element in current and future steel products.

Center is led by Rolf Schmidt, East Metals Director R&D Vanadium since October 2019. Prior to joining EVRAZ Rolf served several managerial roles in R&D, Quality and General Management at Swiss based companies Feintool AG, Benteler Rothrist AG and Deloro HTM. He holds a Diploma and PhD in Metallurgy of RWTH Aachen University of Technology.

A team of technical specialists under Dr. Schmidt management has started to work on realizing specific research programs and already engaged with steel producers. “We invite vanadium users around the world to approach us to jointly explore areas of technical improvement related to vanadium usage”, - says Dr. Schmidt. A dedicated technology network, which connects major research facilities with the steel industry served by EVRAZ Vanadium, is also being established. It will consist of leading steel industry technology suppliers, end users of advanced steels, designated organizations and standardization bodies. EVRAZ Vanadium R&D will also collaborate with VANITEC, the producer’s organization of the vanadium industry.

The steel industry is striving to improve productivity, adopt digitalization and lower manufacturing costs; and historical vanadium research has already proven that a holistic approach, linking market-to-microstructure can offer savings in the supply chain. For example, Recrystallization Controlled Rolling in Thermo-Mechanical-Controlled-Processing can offer approximately 25% savings in productivity and reduced rolling loads relative to low-temperature Controlled Rolling, and the consideration of new grades such as low-carbon nanostructured-bainite could negate costly heat-treatment. The automotive sector being a classical example of this approach, whereby research is driven by needs for steel strength, improved hydrogen embrittlement resistance and design-driven needs such as increased elongation for hole-expansion requirements.

“We see clear economic trends, such as the EU's green deal climate policy and focus on resource efficiency which directly addresses the criticality of materials in the future and production footprint of future steel grades”, - says Alexander Erenburg, EVRAZ Vice President of Vanadium. - “Ferrovanadium will play a key role in shaping this future, enabling lighter transport structures, stronger construction steel solutions and safer infrastructure.”

EVRAZ has already established collaborations with Aachen University of Technology in Germany, Colorado School of Mines in the US and SWERIM of Sweden, the leading Swedish organization in materials research. The first Vanadium R&D projects have already started with results expected by the end of this year.

EVRAZ is the largest vanadium producer outside of China, supplying the global steel industry with over 13'000 metric tons of pure vanadium per year in different forms such as Ferrovanadium, Pentoxide or Polyvanadate.