The above examples show: It is in our company’s DNA to explore new technologies and to work closely with our customers to write history anew.
Yet there is not only one source of innovation. Alongside customers’ individual wants and needs, the big social, economic, and technical trends also inspire us, of course. Among the key drivers now are digitalization and green metals. That’s why our #turningmetalsgreen mission is also a logical consequence of the transformative phase the entire metals industry is currently going through in the fight against climate change. The fact that our customers will have to become greener and more sustainable is what motivates us to develop innovative technologies that push the boundaries of what is possible. That is because we are a key enabler of this transformation.
We innovate at many different levels. Our Research & Development unit plays a vital role in this. Interdisciplinary teams develop new plants, technologies, and processes and, to do this, utilize the latest tools and methods, such as structure analyses, fluid mechanics, dynamic simulations, or virtual and augmented reality. They also collaborate closely with university and non-university research institutions.
It goes without saying that there can be no innovation without investment: last year alone, more than EUR 129 million went into the field of research and development. The Innovation Hub we set up in 2023 is again taking our research work to the next level. The clear goal here is to bring innovations quickly to market maturity, in order to make decisive advances in the decarbonization of the metals industry.
There’s one other thing you need to drive innovation: courage. Back in 1985, the construction of a CSP® pilot plant represented a considerable financial risk. The same applies today. When the foundation stone for Mercedes-Benz’s battery recycling factory is laid in March 2023, it constitutes the first major order for our joint venture Primobius. The development of the technology would not be feasible without the tests on the pilot plant in Hilchenbach.
What are the next big innovations? We think it is EASyMelt. The electric-assisted syngas smelter is an alternative to direct reduction and is aimed at accelerating the decarbonization of existing integrated steel plants. In 2023, we signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Steel to implement our innovative EASyMelt technology in a blast furnace in India. It is quite possible that the next revolutionary technology will emerge from Jamshedpur in India.