IMDEA Materials and ArcelorMittal leading the advance of sustainable steel design

  • The IRIDESCENT project, with a budget of over €9,000,000, will be the largest project coordinated by the IMDEA Materials Institute in its history.
  • IRIDESCENT seeks to harness new digital tools, particularly artificial intelligence, to reuse scrap metal and prevent material waste.

In the face of raw materials and energy crises, and environmental challenges, an ambitious project aims to address a crucial sustainability challenge in one of the key industries in the transition to a green economy.

Co-coordinated by IMDEA Materials Institute and ArcelorMittal, IRIDESCENT is a new initiative to reduce carbon emissions and decrease dependence on critical raw materials in the steel production industry.

“We are facing several crises that are negatively impacting the sustainability of one of the most important sectors for the development of our society today,” stated Prof. José Manuel Torralba, Director of IMDEA Materials.

“By increasing the percentage of recycling in the steel industry, we simultaneously tackle three major problems: reducing dependence on critical metals, saving energy, and reducing CO2 emissions.”

“Let’s not forget that steel, an essential material in today’s society (over 1,800 million tons are produced each year), is the second-largest source of CO2 emissions globally,” he added.

With a budget of more than €9,000,000 funded by Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation’s TRANSMISIONES program, through the State Research Agency and CDTI Innovation, IRIDESCENT marks a significant milestone in advanced materials research and development.

In addition to ArcelorMittal, one of the world’s leading integrated steel and mining companies, and IMDEA Materials, several technological centers, SMEs, and companies from across Spain are also involved.

Partners include the Carlos III University of Madrid, the University of Burgos, AIMEN Technological Center, TheNextPangea, Renishaw Ibérica, Blesol Tech, mim-tech ALFA, AENIUM, IDAERO SOLUTIONS, and Syspro Automation.

IRIDESCENT aims to promote sustainable design of steel alloys and efficient processes, leveraging advanced digital tools, including Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Among the project’s objectives is the implementation of a data space for the intelligent development of new steel materials, using AI algorithms to model the materials’ value chain.

These models will include data derived from physical modeling of alloys, processes, microstructures, and properties of new steel alloys.

Speaking following the project’s recent launch, Prof. Torralba emphasised the importance of IRIDESCENT for both the scientific community and society at large.

“From a scientific perspective, methodologies for selecting scrap compositions that will generate a new paradigm in material selection processes will be developed,” he said.

“Sustainable design involves developing alloys that can maximise the capabilities of the alloying elements that form them. This not only reduces the consumption of critical metals but also improves efficiency in meeting component design criteria.”

“But what is really important is the societal impact of this research. This project contributes to a more sustainable society by addressing several fronts.”

As the largest project ever led by IMDEA Materials, the launch of IRIDESCENT also signifies a great responsibility on the part of the Institute.

“We must demonstrate that we can develop solutions that bring value to our society,” concluded Prof. Torralba. “I firmly believe that the consortium has the necessary capabilities to address the challenges of the project and respond to the trust placed in us.”

This publication is part of the MIG-20232094 project (CDTI)/PLEC2023-010190 (AEI) financed by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033.