The Future of Steel Structure Construction

words Al Woods

Steel Construction

Introduction

Steel structures help define our modern world. It is no overstatement to say that steel production and construction are primary shapers of our reality. Given steel’s importance to the globe as a whole, pioneers within the industry whether its production or construction are looking to adopt newer technologies to improve the industry as a whole. This article will explore four technologies that are helping shape the future of steel construction.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Those in the construction industry have what almost seems like a magical power in creating some of the coolest steel buildings. One technology that is enabling this magic is BIM. Simply put, BIM packages will collect data from various construction management packages and professions and collect a construction project’s data, including designs, into one file. This allows for the prevention of costly clashes that would result in cost overruns. For the creative, this helps free their time to create cool buildings that are also practical and come in under budget.

Forging Super Steels

Since steel was first produced in the iron age, alchemists and then later scientists have looked to make the material stronger and better capable of filling specific roles. Early attempts to strengthen steel came with reducing the carbon content. Later attempts involved adding other metals and materials. These attempts were successful but came with increased costs impacting global steel prices.

Now, researchers at Hong Kong University and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have discovered a possible way to make what can effectively be described as a super steel. The process developed by the researchers is called grain-boundary delamination and could possibly make steel stronger and more flexible for the same raw material input.

Steel Recycling

Depending on who you speak to and what parameters are considered steel is one of the most sustainable construction materials currently available. This is great news for those looking to erect steel structures. However, to further steel’s sustainable adoption to help the environment one hurdle needs to be jumped, that being copper.

Copper concentrations in recycled steel can result in cracking during fabrication. This is a possibility when copper concentrations are at 0.1%. That being said closed loop recycling and scrap dilution techniques are constantly been improved upon to help prevent high copper concentrations from impacting recycled steel.

Zero-Slag 

Slag is a byproduct of removing phosphorous through the steel production cycle. Approximately 0.2 tons of slag is produced per one ton of steel. Slag needs to either be disposed of or recycled but this is an added cost to production. A Japanese steel producer has developed a zero-slag process. The process involves allowing lime to react with the phosphorus oxides, as well as limiting the amount of silicon used in the process to remove the phosphorous. This can reduce costs for those needing steel for construction.

Conclusion

Technology has driven steel production to its current heights. Technology promises to help the steel industry reach even higher and build ever taller, more impressive structures.

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