Extreme qualities, unique products
Research into high performance steel comes naturally to Luleå University of Technology (LTU) which has the LKAB iron ore mines and the SSAB steel group as next door neighbours. Research is as old as the university itself, and today there are around 50 scientists bent on finding advanced methods for developing steel and its applications. For the past few years much of this has been conducted at the Centre for High-performance Steel led by professor Mats Oldenburg.
“We have created an environment where it is possible to run industrial development projects. It’s a matter of overcoming technical hurdles such as improving processes. We work with extreme material characteristics for unique products,” is how he summarizes the centre’s aims.
It all began back in the 1970s when scientists from the college together with Norrbottens Järnverk (today’s SSAB) developed a new patented method for press hardening. Working closely with companies has therefore formed a natural part of research since the very beginning.
“We have good, close cooperation with many companies, and not only Swedish. This means that research projects quickly become development projects and then products,” says Mats Oldenburg.
Proof of their success are the two international research conferences organized over the past few years that took place in Luleå and Kassel, Germany. They were arranged in association with the University of Kassel. LTU’s Centre for High-performance Steel also participates in several EU research projects, among others as part of the Seventh Framework Programme.
“We seek long-term, ongoing collaboration with companies. But this also places a few demands on companies when it comes to commitment and co-financing in order to participate in such research projects. In the case of smaller companies, we can create gateway projects for technology development,” explains Mats Oldenburg.
The Centre at LTU also offers laboratory test resources for external parties who need advanced measuring and analytic methods. For example, Luleå has one of Europe’s best equipped tribology laboratories (friction and wear research).