Indian Engineer Wins Top Innovation Award

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MELBOURNE – Indian-born engineer Veena Sahajwalla, who used recycled rubber to revolutionise steel-making, won the A$30,000 top prize at The Australian Innovation Challenge awards in Sydney Tuesday night.

The technology – which was developed at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney – has already prevented more than 1.4 million tyres from becoming landfill, with the rubber along with recycled plastic containers partly replacing coke in generating power for the production of steel.

Dr Sahajwalla, who studied in India before completing a PhD at the University of Michigan, said the principles underlying her polymer injection technology to create an environmentally friendly steel industry could also be applied to other industries.

The technology could cut power consumption by millions of kilowatt hours a year.

“In the process of making steel you need an input of carbon which traditionally comes from coal-based resources,” she was quoted by The Australian as saying.

“What we’ve shown is that you don’t need to rely on the conventional materials, which has changed the paradigm of energy creation.”

Editor-in-chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell said the competition had attracted hundreds of diverse and inspiring entries that highlighted often uncelebrated work.

“If last year we were surprised by the enthusiastic response from the science community and entrants across the country, this year we are gratified our inaugural event was not a flash in the pan but the start of something meaningful,” he said.

UNSW’s industry partner, Arrium, is using Dr Sahajwalla’s technology in Australia and has sub-licensed it to a plant in Thailand and is in talks with other overseas steel-makers. – Bernama