New materials for mobility and energy – EIB supports voestalpine’s research project
- Release date: 30 November 2012
- Reference: 2012-183-EN
For research and development (R&D) involving new steel grades for applications in the fields of mobility and energy the voestalpine Group is to receive a EUR 250m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). These funds will be used by voestalpine to build a pilot plant in Linz for the controlled annealing and coating of electrical steel strip. Both sides signed a contract to that effect this Friday at the Group’s headquarters in Linz.
Voestalpine is a world leader in its core technologies, producing and processing steel products of the highest quality. These are used mainly in the fields of mobility (the automotive industry, railways and aviation) and energy (in both the conventional and renewables segments). The newly signed EIB loan will enable the company to press ahead with research and development involving new steel grades and processing technologies and thus to develop new, innovative applications, especially for ultra-high-strength steel grades.
The aim of this pilot plant – the first to be developed in the world – is to produce improved electrical steel strip. This is a special type of steel strip whose specific electromagnetic properties have the effect of increasing efficiency, for instance in applications involving electric motors and generators. The plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. It will then be the first plant of this kind to be suitable for commercial use. Voestalpine will carry out the development work in its existing European R&D centres in Austria but also those in Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Voestalpine is receiving the loan under a financing programme jointly supported by the EIB and the European Commission known as the “Risk Sharing Financing Facility”, an innovative instrument for sharing credit risks that is intended to provide private companies or public institutes with better access to external funds if they are carrying out projects with a higher financial risk in the fields of R&D, demonstration or innovation.
At the contract signing ceremony EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer said: “Voestalpine AG is one of the world’s most successful steel companies. This success is due in particular to its high degree of innovation. It demonstrates in an exemplary manner that targeted networking and cooperation with international R&D partners have a crucial impact on entrepreneurial development. The result is products that lead the market in terms of quality and technology and are attractive for key industrial sectors and ground-breaking for Europe’s ability to innovate.”
“The voestalpine Group currently already derives 60% of its sales from the mobility and energy sectors. Over the long term these will also be a focal point of our growth strategy because it is in these segments of the market that our leadership in technology and quality enables us to best differentiate ourselves from the international competition", said voestalpine AG’s CEO Wolfgang Eder at the signing ceremony, adding that “the support from the EIB therefore makes a major contribution to the longer-term financing of research projects in these innovative segments of the market”. The future of mobility and energy will crucially depend on developments in the use of lightweight materials. The development of new ultra-high-strength steels will also enable parts and components to be produced that are both lighter and more energy-efficient. It is also against this background that the EIB-backed pilot plant for novel types of electrical steel strip will be built, which will enable even more efficient electric motors to be produced in the future.