Steel manufacturing is one of the most carbon-emission intensive industries in the world and is expected to contribute to more than 10 billion tons of carbon emissions every year starting in 2050 if left unchecked. MetPeel, a new low-temperature, single-step mechanical process to make steel sheet and strip, is the first step to solving this problem.
Dr. Dinakar Sagapuram, named a 2021 Breakthrough Energy Fellow for his work on clean energy manufacturing technologies, as well as colleague and co-investigator Dr. Prabhakar Pagilla, will develop MetPeel to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize — steel.
Currently, most of the decarbonization efforts in steel focus primarily on ironmaking and steelmaking processes, where different clean sources like hydrogen, electricity and biomass are being explored as alternative reductants or fuel in place of coal. But the practice of shaping cast steel into a thin sheet via multiple deformation steps using rolling has not changed all that much over the last 100 years, although rolling is known to be one of the most energy-intensive processes.
“MetPeel disrupts this paradigm by enabling strip production in far fewer steps and within a compact physical footprint,” said Sagapuram, assistant professor in the Wm Michael Barnes ‘64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University. “This directly translates to energy efficiency and lower cost. The benefits are tremendous, especially for thinner strips. This is because, in contrast to rolling where specific energy (energy per unit kg) and cost increase exponentially as the strip gets thinner, energy consumption in our process is independent of thickness.”
The built-in advantage of being less expensive than conventional technology sets MetPeel apart from other clean energy technologies.
“Most current clean technology solutions that can replace existing high-emission technologies incur an additional cost — the Green Premium,” said Pagilla, professor in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering and associate dean for research in the Texas A&M College of Engineering. “MetPeel eliminates the Green Premium for steel. It is not only a clean technology alternative to steel strip rolling, but it also costs less, which essentially means it has a ‘negative’ Green Premium.”
Founded by Bill Gates, Breakthrough Energy (BE) is committed to supporting the development and adoption of breakthrough clean technologies the world needs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. BE Fellows is their latest program specifically designed to provide researchers with funding, mentorship, education and access to the BE network with the aim to accelerate new technologies from early development to widespread deployment.
The SecureAmerica Institute (SAI), a TEES-led private-public partnership focused on advanced manufacturing, will support this project by providing adequate space to host MetPeel machinery in their new facility at the RELLIS Campus as well as necessary resources and industry connections.
Interested in furthering a partnership with SAI? Contact Chris Holshouser at email@example.com and get the conversation started.