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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Steel technologies projects > Steel research in links and chains
Graphic element Steel research in links and chains
    11-10-2000
 

European steel research under the programme of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) is expected to finish when the ECSC Treaty comes to an end on 23 July 2002. To offer alternative support, the Commission introduced a steel research initiative under the Growth Programme. As a result, a post-ECSC research programme will be launched in July 2002.

Incremental build-up of value

The Community Steel research programme has been running since the ECSC Treaty was signed in 1951, and has made a major contribution to the development of new steel products and processes in Europe. From the start, research projects have repeatedly led to the industrial application of results. The strength of the programme is that its achievements are incremental. Early research projects very often lead to follow-up pilot or demonstration projects looking toward industrial application, or others focusing on disseminating the research results. Assessment of progress over five or ten years of related projects reveals innovations, substantial modernisation of production processes, and development of novel types of steels. Financial assessment has shown that over the almost 50 years of its existence, the benefit of ECSC research is at least 13 times as great as the investment. The ECSC steel research programme is organised through 13 expert technical committees on research projects (some for products and some for processes) and four more on pilot projects. Project proposals are assessed by the committees and by the European Commission. All the project results are published and distributed to all participants in the ECSC programme. Participating research centres, companies and universities can evaluate the results and then formulate further proposals to build on progress.

Two programmes in parallel

Until 2002, the ECSC Steel research programme will run in parallel with the New and improved materials and production technologies in the steel field generic activity of the Growth Programme. During the planning of FP5, it was assumed that the Steel programme would end with the ECSC Treaty in July 2002. Growth therefore included provision for steel research, especially on environmental and social aspects and production. However, the Council of Ministers has now decided that there will be a separate research programme for steel after 2002. This will be financed by the interest accruing from the ECSC's residual funds of € 1.3 billion.

  Wide range of projects

Projects last for between two and four years, although some demonstration projects are extended for another two years. Of the 330 projects which are currently running, around 70 will be completed at the end of 2000 and a further batch will begin.

New methods for steel housing
One project (Application of steel in urban habitats) recently completed under the ECSC Steel programme developed new methods for the construction of steel housing, including individual houses and collective multi-floor buildings. Flexible structures, using prefabricated components, allow buildings to be altered or expanded according to the changing needs of users. An important follow-up project will assess and disseminate the results of the earlier demonstration projects by producing reports and video films for wide distribution of information about the new building possibilities. The French co-ordinator Centre Technique Industriel de la Construction Métallique (CTICM) is working on collective urban housing; two partners, SAES and 3L-PLAN (Germany) are developing high quality, architect-designed individual housing using steel frames. In the UK light steel framed individual houses are being developed (SCI) and the Finnish steel producer Rautaruukki is working on individual houses with high levels of thermal insulation.

Alternative coatings for steel food cans
Another new project Environmentally friendly coated tinplate for foodcans, led by Centro Sviluppo Materiali (CSM) in Italy, with partners from Greece and Spain, is examining possible new surface treatments for steel food cans. Tests are being carried out to replace the usual chromium-based treatment (which can lead to environmental pollution) by a new cobalt/titanium or cerium-based coating.

  Multisectoral approach
The big difference between research under the present Steel research programme and the research under Growth is that the ECSC research is limited to specific steel products designated by the ECSC Treaty. Growth Programme research is multisectoral, covering any steel application, and steel producers take part alongside research institutes, suppliers and other relevant organisations. The new steel research programme starting in 2002 may well be wider in its scope. If so, and given adequate funding, a specific steel initiative under the next Framework Programme may not be needed.
   
Incremental build-up of value
Two programmes in parallel
Wide range of projects
Multisectoral approach
   

Key EU-funded research

EU research on steel products and processes is funded through the ECSC steel research programme and the Growth Programme's generic activity on steel. ECSC-funded research projects often lead to demonstration and pilot projects with the ultimate aim of industrial application. Growth projects are broader and multisectoral.

Project: CEMIR - Cost-effective electric motors with improved recyclability and less environmental impact (BRPR-CT96-0249)

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