‘Super steel’ lightens the load

In a world breakthrough, researchers have created the ideal manufacturing material of the future – clean, green ‘super steel’ that is double the strength of normal steel and resistant to fracture.

“Stronger steel means less material is required to support a load or resist a force, which should lead to lighter structures and vehicles,” says Deakin University researcher, Dr Georgina Kelly.

“This would deliver reduced energy needs and emissions in cars, and greater potential to develop more complex structures such as much longer bridge spans,” she says.

Research has shown that the strength of steel can be increased dramatically in the lab, but Dr Kelly says the challenge now is to translate laboratory success to large-scale production.

Dr Kelly will describe her research at a Fresh Science media conference at the Melbourne Museum today (August 18)

Dr Kelly says that although steel faces stiff competition from ‘lighter metals’ like aluminium and magnesium, it has several advantages.

“There is already a huge, worldwide infrastructure for steel processing, and there are also highly developed technologies for manufacturing with steel, joining steel components and countering problems such as corrosion,” she says.

Fresh Science is a national research competition where 16 ‘fresh scientists’ (unpublished in the media) are selected with regard to the quality of their research and their ability to communicate that research. Over four days they present their research to the media, students, and the public, and compete for two prizes: a study tour of the UK courtesy of the British Council, and an ABC Science Media Fellowship.

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