Science

Professor is winner in women's award

Veena Sahajwalla in the lab
Tuesday, 27 September, 2011

Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla has been named as a winner in the 2011 Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards.

Professor Sahajwalla was selected for the Nokia Business Innovation Award. Telstra says the Awards program aims to celebrate the success of extraordinary women.

The NSW winners proceed to the national finals of the Awards, to be announced in Melbourne on 18 November.

Professor Sahajwalla is helping the steel industry combat great environmental challenges. As Director at the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at UNSW, she developed technology to reduce carbon emissions during steel production and recycle end-of-life materials that would otherwise go to landfill.

“Growing up in India, I would walk past huge mountains of waste supporting communities of rubbish pickers and imagine what it would take to convert "rubbish" into something more valuable,” says Professor Sahajwalla.

Traditionally, in electric arc furnace steelmaking, scrap is reprocessed using large amounts of coke and coal as sources of carbon.

Through successful laboratory experiments since 2003, Professor Sahajwalla has collaborated with manufacturing giant OneSteel to develop technology to recycle plastic and rubber waste in the scrap reprocessing furnace.

The “green steel” technology not only produces lower emissions, but reduces reliance on coke and coal and requires less electricity. As well, plastic and rubber waste are spared from landfill.

The innovation has attracted science and technology awards in Australia and the United States and has the potential to transform steel production globally.