World-leading research rooted in the raw materials of the region.

Foto: Maria Åsén

Since 1963, Swerea Mefos has been present in Luleå. With more than 50 years experience from research and development for the metallurgic industry, there is a robust and well-functioning research infrastructure adding to a worldwide competence network. We had a talk with Mikael Larsson who has been working as a scientist and group manager at Swerea Mefos since 2005. He is currently in charge of a research group working with process-integration.

– Mefos is working hard to provide value for our customers and at the same time developing the industry. Our core issues are often connected to how the metallurgic industry can become increasingly energy efficient and optimizing resources, says Mikael Larsson.

Can you make a closer introduction of Swerea Mefos: the idea behind your operations?
”Swerea Mefos is a research institute for the metallurgic industry. We conduct applied, demand-driven research that derives from the direct challenges and problems of the industry. The objective of Mefos is to work for increased competitiveness and improved innovation climate within the industry, and facilitating implementation of research results into real operations with special focus on development of materials, production processes and product development.”

 In close dialogue with the industry we solve problems and challenges on both short and long term

Describe the role of Swerea Mefos within the innovation system in the steel and metal industry, both in Sweden and globally?
”Swerea Mefos plays a central role in the Swedish innovation system with regional, national and global presence. An important core within our operations is our close collaboration with academia, the business community and the civic society. We also work closely with colleagues around the world and have throughout the years built a large network of people within the research community and clients. Together we work hard to improve our competitiveness through new innovations.”

Mikael Larsson, scientist and group manager at Swerea Mefos

What is the strength and unique offer of Swerea Mefos?
”One of our absolute biggest strengths is our infrastructure. Through our pilot plants, with for instance electric arc furnaces, universal converters, heating furnaces and rolling mills, we can perform large-scale trials in an authentic environment. That means that we can adjust all trials according to our clients’ specific needs and conditions. It is extremely valuable to our clients that trials and research can be conducted without causing disturbance to the daily operations. Besides the fact that it saves recourses, it also means a significantly higher level of safety. The recourses of Swerea Mefos are amongst the most complete in an international context. We also work closely with similar institutions globally.”

Can you describe Swerea Mefos and the role of its research when it comes to economical growth?
”The research is an important piece of the puzzle regarding innovation and development. New solutions create growth. In close dialogue with the industry we solve problems and challenges on both short and long term – that is the way it has to be. Mefos has contributed in the work of building a scientific awareness within the industry. That drives the future development.”

What challenges lies in the future for Swerea Mefos and the industry?
”The energy issue is one of the greatest challenges that we are already addressing. Then there is the climate issue, where CO2 emissions are a challenge to the steel industry. A large responsibility to work even more sustainable falls on the industry itself. This is a wide area where research can play a major role. Raw materials are another challenge. They change character and compound and are not as pure nowadays. That means that we need to change the processes and increase the amount recycled. It is a major challenge where we need to find new cost-efficient possibilities. All these issues relate to resource efficiency, environmental efficiency, keeping costs to a minimal and not creating excess waste. Within all these areas we still have challenges waiting to be resolved. And we look forward to helping the industry to tackle this.”

Swerea MEFOS is an independent research institute, and its business concept is applied research and technical development in process metallurgy, heating, metalworking, environmental engineering and energy efficiency mainly for the ferrous and non-ferrous industry. Research is carried out in collaborative research projects or in projects on contract basis, financed by individual companies. We have approx. 100 employees and our turnover is around SEK 150 million per year. Swerea MEFOS is well known worldwide for its unique large scale pilot plant equipment in metallurgy and metalworking and its ability to perform very large research projects. Swerea MEFOS is a part of the Swerea group.