A EUR63 million Jet Vapor Deposition line has been opened today at ArcelorMittal's Kessales plant in Belgium.

According to the world's largest steelmaker, the plant is the result of years of 'scientific investigation' by the company's research and development teams, in collaboration with the Metallurgical Research Centre, to create a new breakthrough technology for the metallic coating of steel.

The new line is a part of a EUR138 million investment programme and falls within the scope of the 2014 Industrial Plan (an agreement between ArcelorMittal, the Walloon Government, Sogepa – Société de Gestion et de Participations – and social partners). Finance for the project came from Sogepa, through ARCEO, a joint venture between Sogepa and ArcelorMittal.

What exactly is JVD technology? According to ArcelorMittal, it enables moving strips of steel to be coated in a vacuum chamber by vapourising zinc onto steel at high speed. Zinc coating protects steel from corrosion and thereby improves durability.

At Kessales, JVD technology is being used to produce coated steels for automotive and other industrial applications. It is claimed to offer many advantages including a lower environmental impact, 'an exceptionally uniform coating' and excellent adhesion qualities regardless of steel grade, including the ultra-high strength steels under development. Different coating thicknesses are possible, meaning the system is highly flexible.

According to Matthieu Jehl, CEO of ArcelorMittal Gent-Liege cluster said that the company's strength lies in its ability to innovate and push the boundaries of steelmaking, adding that it demonstrated the steelmaker's belief that there was a future for steel in Belgium. "I'm extremely proud of all the ArcelorMittal employees who have contributed to this project," he said.

Greg Ludkovsky, vice president and head of research and development at ArcelorMittal, said that the JVD process was a world first and the result of 'breakthrough scientific development. "Today's inauguration is the culmination of eight years' hard work by ArcelorMittal and CRM Group," he said, adding that the new technology can bring 'unique solutions to our clients in many different markets."

It also means two new metallic coatings, Jetgal and Jetskin to the steelmaker's range of metallic coatings.