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High strength steel for a better environment

SSAB Tunnpl : 03 June, 2003  (New Product)
A new environmental study reveals that products made of high strength steel are beneficial to the environment. Environmental effects were studied both in the production and in the use of various products and structures. The results are clear, the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide can be substantially reduced in important areas such as road traffic, transport and production. Calculations reveal that the environmental benefit of high strength steels is also economically favourable to companies that decide to use these steels.
Vehicles, furniture or large structures such as bridges, high strength steel is appropriate from the environmental viewpoint for all of them. Environmental benefits are evident at all stages, all the way from the production of raw materials right up to recycling. In addition, these steels contribute to improving the working conditions.

'The results are clear and ought to prompt all companies to have a closer look at these materials when developing their products and their production methods,' considers Ylva Granbom at Jernkontoret, the Swedish Ironmasters' Association, who has carried out the environmental study together with Jonas Larsson of SSAB Tunnplåt.

Jonas Larsson continues:
'The high strength and other physical properties of high strength steel justify a closer look at the possibility of using these materials in the production operations of many companies. In addition, the environmental benefits are an extra bonus to many users. But the environmental properties will probably be even more important in the future as the environmental demands of buyers become more insistent. In this area, we want to take on greater responsibility and cooperate more closely with our customers in the development of products and production methods that are focused on the environment.'

The study highlights five areas in which high strength steels contribute to better conservation of resources:
- lower consumption of raw materials and energy
- lighter products
- lighter transport
- longer useful life of the products
- fewer process stages in production

Just like all other steels, high strength steels are also energy-efficient to produce and recycle compared to materials such as aluminium. In addition, steel offers the benefit of being suitable for recycling an infinite number of times without its quality being impaired.

The reason for the environmental benefits recurring at all stages from raw material to recycling is the fact that high strength steels are strong. So a smaller amount of material is needed to achieve the required strength of a product, which will thus be lighter, stronger and more competitive. This means that switching to high strength steels is also economically beneficial to the companies.

'The economic benefits are often decisive, although the environmental gains are becoming increasingly important,' explains Jonas Larsson. 'We are continually developing steels of increasing strength, and we can therefore expect even lighter and stronger products with better environmental properties in the future.'

The environmental study also includes a section that describes the influence of high strength steels on working conditions. A team that loads and unloads railway wagons needs to lift 3600 kg less per shift because the load locking arms they operate are now made of high strength steel. Loading and unloading have become less strenuous and harmful since high strength locking arms were introduced.
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