January 17, 2013 12:37:53 PM
Steel manufacturer Severstal North America has partnered with Mississippi State to install a laboratory on campus for steel alloy research.
The company has pledged to provide the infrastructure and equipment for the Steel Research Center (SRC) to the university, and in return, the university will continue to provide its research expertise and capabilities.
Roger King, director for the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, said through CAVS, Mississippi State has built a strong relationship with Severstal, and has assisted the global steel producer since they opened their doors in Columbus.
"We've been dealing with Severstal Columbus ever since it went in, and we already have a lot of the infrastructure tools for what it takes to test the products," King said. "We've always delivered on time, and delivered what we've said we were going to deliver."
For Severstal, research at the laboratory will focus primarily on producing new steel alloys. An advisory board made up of industrial and university leaders will be formed later this year with a goal of developing an action plan to ensure the SRC's vision is implemented.
Funding has already been provided for the first big piece of equipment, a vacuum furnace, but it will be months before work can begin on campus. The SRC will be located in the old Edwards Reactor Lab.
"You don't just go out over night and buy this equipment, though. This stuff is not small and it's not easy to get," King said, adding that the manufacturer actually has to have the order in hand, before the equipment is constructed. "The building was perfect for us; steel making is a dirt process and we didn't necessarily want to do that at CAVS."
For Severstal, the addition of the SRC means not having to outsource research. It will also provide for workforce training, something Severstal's Chris Kristock said the company is thrilled about.
Kristock is the Vice President of Quality and Product Development for Severstal North America.
"Through this association, Severstal hopes to participate in the development of metallurgical and material engineers at MSU and receive the benefit of laboratory scale product and process improvement trials," he said.
Even though Severstal is providing funding for the majority of the project, officials with the company have made it clear to King and the university that this is not just for Severstal's use alone.
"If we wanted to work with some other steel manufacturer that funded us to do some research, we could do it," King said. "With this laboratory, we'll be able to melt steel, add elements and those types of things on top of our characterization capabilities here.
"Severstal can't afford to go out to the big steel mills and make test runs on these alloys, so we are just trying to build a little mini-mill here on campus."
The university and Severstal hope the research performed at the center will facilitate the growth of the regional economic force as well as draw national and international participation in education, services and the research for steel and iron alloys.