Researchers from the Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University are developing a process to manufacture high-quality steel wires from recycled iron feedstock.

The work is funded by the REMADE Institute, a public-private partnership established by the United States Department of Energy and the first institute in the US dedicated to helping the nation transition to a 'circular economy' – a system in which materials are continually recycled and reused in an effort to reduce waste as much as possible.

“Steel is hard to decarbonise, and improving recyclability will impact this positively by reducing the most carbon-intensive step: iron ore reduction.”

Sridhar Seetharaman, vice dean for research and innovation in the Fulton Schools

“Steel is hard to decarbonise, and improving recyclability will impact this positively by reducing the most carbon-intensive step: iron ore reduction,” said Sridhar Seetharaman, vice dean for research and innovation in the Fulton Schools and a professor of materials science and engineering.

Seetharaman is developing this process with Narayanan Neithalath, a professor of civil engineering whose research focuses on sustainable materials for buildings and infrastructure, and Subramaniam Rajan, a professor of civil engineering who works on composite materials and modeling.

“If we don’t reduce industrial energy consumption and industrial emissions, research shows we will only get a little more than halfway to net-zero by 2050.''

Nabil Nasr, REMADE chief executive officer

“A circular economy is critical,” said Nabil Nasr, REMADE chief executive officer. “If we don’t reduce industrial energy consumption and industrial emissions, research shows we will only get a little more than halfway to net-zero by 2050, about 55% of the way. A circular economy approach to how we manufacture and use everyday products is needed to get us all the way to net-zero.”

Since 2017, REMADE has launched or selected 84 projects, representing $85.6 million in funding. Seetharaman and Neithalath’s project has been allocated $1.25 million in funding that is cost-shared between REMADE and ASU.

At ASU, Seetharaman and Neithalath will conduct microstructure characterization, modeling and mechanical testing of the new recycled steel manufacturing process.