07 May 2020

British Steel supports Materials Processing Institute road surface research project

The Materials Processing Institute has secured funding of nearly £120,000 for a research project to investigate ways to convert steelmaking slag into high-grade road surfacing material. This research is supported by a government grant awarded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, as part of the Transforming Foundation Industries initiative.

Currently steelmaking slag, a by-product of basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS), is crushed and used in the road construction process, but it’s existing approval to 60 PSV (Polished Stone Value) level of skid resistance means its use on UK roads is limited. During this 12-month project the Institute, working in collaboration with Tarmac, British Steel, Glass Futures Ltd and PWS road building services, seeks to increase the silica content of the slag to improve its quality and consistency, enabling it to achieve a higher PSV classification. This higher classification would allow greater use on UK roads and reduce waste through reuse of the refined slag.

Chris McDonald, Chief Executive of the Institute, said: “The UK steel industry produces around 550,000 tonnes of coarse steelmaking slag annually. A commercially viable material will reduce waste, contribute to the circular economy and increase the competitiveness of the steelmaker, glass producer and material processor.”

The Institute plans to create several new slags that will be tested by Tarmac for skid resistance and the most promising will be produced in a full-scale plant trial before undergoing further testing. The project’s second goal is to assess the volumes and values of waste, or difficult-to-reuse, streams of appropriate material from the glass industry and the steel works to determine potential for use as a slag modifier. This work aims to improve utilisation of by-product and waste streams to increase the value and volume of the by-product stream.

Chris added: “We are confident this investment will pay dividends for the UK economy and further enhance this country’s expertise in research and innovation.”